Oh dear: the replacement singer for the indisposed star tenor Rolando Villazon hobbled out onto the stage of the Grosses Festspielhaus, wearing a cast on her broken leg, and sat down to sing.
But anyone who might have thought a bodily injury could interfere with this singer’s vocal agility had another think coming, even though singing while seated doesn’t necessarily do the singing any good. This was a worthy evening of Handel arias – a program similar to the one Villazon had planned – a version of the one the American mezzo-soprano had sung all over the world to promote her “Furore” album.
The mezzo-soprano has become very well known in recent years. And rightly so, as became clear in Salzburg. Her voice is slender and cleverly deployed. Her high register has brilliant presence, the mid-range is completely audible. The voice is strong. Andabove all, the singer handles an unbelievably carrying pianissimo.
The program was well-chosen – demonstrating Handel’s artful portrayal of rage and melancholy – and it was also very well designed, building from the early London operas to the late musical drama Hercules. With “Where shall I fly”, Hercules’s wife fired up the audience to a storm of acclaim.
– Salzburger Nachrichten, August, 2009
DiDonato is one of the finest Handel-singers today. Her solo Album, “Furore”, rightly won several prizes and is one of the most important record releases of this Handel anniversary year. All the pieces [in the concert] were chosen from the album, and she succeeded in utterly convincing the audience with her vocal qualities: a superb technique, capable of taking on everything from the tiniest coloratura to the most gigantic leap of intervals; a fantastic, room-filling piano along with a powerful forte; voluminous lows and powerful high notes; a warm, full, round, and unbelievably expressive voice.
With ‘Crude furie’ from ‘Serse’, DiDonato won over her audience completely. …Ariodante’s ‘Scherza infida’ was the second high point of the program. It was phenomenal to witness how well DiDonato can differentiate the expressions of disappointment, aggression, grief and pessimism, making them flow into one another seamlessly. The mad scene from ‘Hercules’ was intense. At the end of the concert, and especially after the second (and final) encore – ‘Doppo notte’ – standing ovations.
–Dr. Michael Bordt, www.klassik.com, August, 2009