“ARTLESS … VAPOROUS … LILTING”
“DiDonato delivered an artlessly optimistic “Villanelle”, a vaporous ‘Le spectre de la rose” and a lilting “L’île inconnue” before bobbing off in the breeze to a land of undying love. Not that she had far to bob: the very walls of the Barbican hall, not to mention its inhabitants, were poised to embrace this adored diva whose modesty is an eternal miracle in itself.” ~ Fiona Maddocks The Guardian February 2012
“Joyce DiDonato, the mezzo-soprano with perhaps the fiercest following since the early days of Cecilia Bartoli, revealed her full promise in the first few phrases of the first song in Berlioz’s song cycle. Here, she was the one with a refined sense of blending, leaning into the sounds of specific instruments – becoming them, almost – or, when the text dictated, edging more human and emotional.
The sound, of course, is gorgeous. Diction to her is an expressive tool to be manipulated in a thousand little ways. What’s most impressive about her – especially in a hall as large as Verizon – was the relationship she established between text and tone. That pale sound at the end of the third-movement lament? It greatly deepened our understanding of a bitter fate of solitude.”
~ Peter Dobrin Philadelphia Inquirer February 2012
“Best of all, though, was Joyce DiDonato’s performance of Berlioz’s song-cycle Les nuits d’été. She was especially fine in the tragic songs, which she captured with superb dignified gravity, and the orchestra responded in kind.”
~ Ivan Hewett Telegraph February 2012
“And then we had Joyce DiDonato taking that French composer who breathed the sensuous on this sleeve and turned The Nights of Summer into excitement, drama and pure sensual indulgence. Rarely going to opera, I last heard Ms. DiDonato several years ago at an informal gathering , where she sung 18th Century music with virginally pure beauty. Obviously she has broadened out, and her roles–including Berlioz’ Margueite–have transformed her into a dramatic mezzo of stunning proportions.
In Berlioz’ song–cycle, Summer Nights, Ms. DiDonato began with an almost throwaway “Villanelle”. This was disarming, for after that, her voice took on a variety of characters, both male and female. It deepened, its softness was luscious, poured the most rabid operatic voice into the penultimate “Cemetery Moonlight” and finished off with the mystery of “An Unknown Isle”.”
~ Harry Rolnick Concertonet February 2012