Joyce DiDonato’s performance as Donizetti’s Mary Queen of Scots leaves one bereft of superlatives. So let me start by claiming that bel canto of this quality has not been heard at Covent Garden for more than a generation and that, on the strength of this night alone, her name should rank in the operatic pantheon alongside the greatest legends of the past.

Flawless technical virtuosity – based in firm legato, lucid projection, clean diction, breath control, fast trills and precisely articulated runs – makes every note tell. But this is the mere machinery, the hard work.

DiDonato as the rarer gift of imaginative musicality, too, and it’s the glowing beauty of tone, warm shaping of phrase, delicate colouring of words and intense commitment to character which cast the magic and make the drama meaningful.

Proud yet vulnerable, impulsive, arrogant, deeply unsure of herself and her own worst enemy, DiDonato’s Mary is not just heartrendingly beautiful but also vividly real […] poised in the face of death with a mixture of courage, terror and spiritual calm that I found almost unbearably moving.”
Rupert Christiansen – The Telegraph 

“Joyce DiDonato is taking the role of Mary Stuart around many of the world’s top opera houses and her wonderfully sung portrayal is worth travelling a long way to catch. The dramatic music is sung with fire and impetuosity; the coloratura sparkles with virtuoso clarity; and, as Mary contemplates execution, she sings with a voice touched with a very personal emotional tremulousness, and so iridescent with subtle colours, that no other singer today could surely come close to her. DiDonato simply gets better and better.”
Richard Fairman – Financial Times

I have never heard DiDonato in such glorious form, as she soars to the heights in a succession of flawless trills and coloratura. Her sympathetic portrayal keeps you on the edge of your seat when the beleaguered Mary, too proud to plead with the dominant Queen for her freedom, hurls insults that have her followers blenching in horror.”
Claire Colvin – Sunday Express

“A performance in the title role by Joyce DiDonato that is nothing short of transcendent.  The Yankee Diva creates a complex and hugely compelling character; from her wistful address to the clouds to the valedictory duets and arias of the final act. Five stars? No, at least 10.
Michael Church – The Independent 

“DiDonato’s strength lies not only in her technical wizardry but in her imaginative handling of the text. With absolute control, especially when singing softly, she can order a trill or an ornament to behave however she likes.

She hits top notes with the driving power of Usain Bold. Her boldness, her delicacy, her audacity in every part of her vocal range mesmerize.  Yet above all, her humanity and musicianship win out.
Fiona Maddocks – The Observer

“In two months’ time the Scottish nation votes on whether to sever its links with Great Britain. If the vote goes the reformers’ way and they feel the need for a queen, they could do no better than Joyce DiDonato. For London audiences have finally learnt what those in New York, Houston and Berlin must already know – the American mezzo makes one hell of a Scottish queen.

DiDonato exercised such control over every aspect of her vocal performance – dynamic, pitch, rubato, ornamentation, delivering an endlessly subtle rendition of great distinction. She was no less impressive with her dramatic grasp of the role. While she can easily sum the haughty pride of the queen, she became almost girl-like in the terror of her  fate, using vocal shading, facial expressions and body language to such telling effect.”
Keith Clarke – Musical America

“DiDonato’s coloratura technique and total command of bel canto singing puts her in a league of her own. She is becoming a singer of genuine historical significance. She was faultless here, and the ovation she received, almost raising the roof, was richly deserved.”
David Mellor – The Mail on Sunday