Rossini’s La Regata Veneziana is a favourite of DiDonato’s recitals and she delivered an exquisitely coloured account set to Pappano’s splashy, virtuosic playing, though those hushed phrases were probably not audible in the amphitheatre.
She moved away from Wigmore Hall intimacy with the stand out item of the evening. A far better recital choice than Verdi’s alternative, Rossini’s Willow song from Otello contains some of the most haunting and beautifully written pieces he wrote, with a languid, mysterious opening and the wind creepily evoked in the orchestra. Pappano played it with the most haloed, veiled tone, picking out all sorts of detail not brought out usually in Rossini and it gave DiDonato the perfect backdrop for Desdemona’s mini-drama. It bodes well for when she does the whole opera.
– ConcertoNet.com, June, 2009
A spell-binding account of the ‘Willow Song’ from Rossini’s Otello. Opting for a well-projected piano as her basic dynamic, she created an intimacy and sense of tragic sorrow that was absorbing and heart-rending. The artistry with which she modulated the line, both with delicate filigree decoration and variations in colour and volume showed why she has risen to the front rank of international opera, and marked her out as one of the best bel canto stylists of our day.Similar good taste, where perhaps I might have enjoyed less of it, prevailed in her renditions of Kern’s ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ from Show Boat and Arlen’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz. DiDonato’s voice is uncontroversially beautiful and lyrical and so slimming it down further for these lighter numbers was, to my mind, unnecessary. Still, others often find opera singers attempting crossover to sound pretentious or excrutiating, and there certainly wasn’t a hint of either on display here. Perhaps the emotional punch of both pieces might have been greater and seemed more sincere had she sung out, but the deftness and subtlety was certainly an unusual and ravishing approach.
– MusicalCriticism.com, June, 2009