“. . . some of the plot developments and casting bordered on brilliance . . . DiDonato was a wonder. With every technical effect perfectly executed, she proved herself once again a star. In the admirably clear, superior acoustics of Dallas’ Winspear Opera House, the particular heart-tugging quality of her voice came through admirably. And thanks to director Jack O’Brien and choreographer John de los Santos, her acting and movement – everyone’s really – was dynamic and convincing . . .
Great Scott is a hoot . . . a Blu-ray and DVD of this wonderful production is a necessity. Only the stuffy could possibly resist.”
Jason Victor Serinus – Classical Voice North America
“It is, simply, one of the most engaging modern operas produced this century. See it, and you’ll talk about it for years . . . The acclaimed soprano Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato . . . was in fine form and acted brilliantly) . . .”
Arnold Wayne Jones – Dallas Voice
“The title character is Arden Scott (the magnificent American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato), a famous opera singer at the summit of her career . . .
The title role, written specifically for Ms. DiDonato, demands enormous agility, color variety and stamina. In effect, the role encompasses two operas’ worth of soaring arias, galloping cabalettas and mad scenes, which follow one another at a punishing pace, and two distinct characters representing two very different centuries. If “this shit is hard,” Ms. DiDonato made it seem easy. The most elaborate fioriture passages of Rosa Dolorosa, reminiscent of those in Rossini’s Semiramide, unfolded with click-stop precision, dead-accurate aim and total confidence. The Scott character gave scope to Ms. DiDonato’s melting warmth and her ability to delineate shifting moods and emotions through the voice alone. Her excellent physical acting and natural movement were icing on the cake.
A scene between Arden Scott and Winnie Flato, reminiscing about their teen years and talking about their lives and dreams, was wonderfully humane, engaging and real.”
Mike Greenberg – Incident Light
“Infused with humor and sensitivity, it tells the story of Arden Scott (stunningly portrayed by Joyce DiDonato) . . .
The engaging first act is a behind-the-curtain look at rehearsing opera . . . Winnie and Arden share a touching duet, with Arden attributing her fame and success partly to Winnie’s nurturing tutelage. The emotional crux of Act I resides in the surprise meeting of Arden and Sid.”
Alicia Chang – Dallas Voice
“The premiere production couldn’t have had a better cast. Great Scott calls for singers with excellent technique and personal charisma. This cast had both . . . Joyce DiDonato sang like an angel but acted equally well as a star in midlife crisis.”
Ian MacKenzie – Opera Today
“It is hard to imagine a better cast and it is easy to believe that both composer and librettist knew who was singing the opera before they started to create it . . . Arden Scott, a legendary mezzo-soprano, is portrayed by superstar mezzo Joyce DiDonato. She plays her with a very un-divalike simplicity, the local girl made good, who feels the pressure of impending time and voracious young replacements.”
Gregory Sullivan-Isaacs – TheaterJones
“. . . Heggie’s melodic lines, while always nodding to the past, never resort to cheap parody, and his own distinctly contemporary voice is always apparent. The bel canto arias he composed for DiDonato here are gorgeous and memorable, especially an aria she sings, quite exquisitely, as a prayer to Vesuvius before it erupts.
Hearing Joyce DiDonato sing such thoughtfully composed, virtuosic bel canto style music in her prime is worth the price of your ticket.”
Catherine Womack – D Magazine
“. . . he bel canto of DiDonato lends the credibility necessary for us to suspend our initial cynicism and become fully immersed in the classical beauty of the music Heggie has composed. Here in Great Scott, in Rosa Dolorosa, the music transcends the story itself . . . DiDonato’s steely soprano retains its dignity throughout her moments of soul-searching — she never goes fully crazy like the women of operas past. Her performance, as well as the entire ensemble, is nuanced.”
Monica Hinman – Dallas Observer
“Maybe, just maybe, the art of bel canto singing can skyrocket in the context of contemporary opera. Great Scott, The Dallas Opera’s formidable new commission of Terrence McNally’s story and libretto, with music by Jake Heggie, certainly makes it possible . . .
In Act I, American Opera is rehearsing Bazzetti’s work and Joyce DiDonato, for whom the role of as Arden Scott was created, sings to impress. While seemingly at play with her voice, DiDonato catapults the art of coloratura, singing with unbounded joy through highly expressive vocal shifts with rich textures and a fountain of effervescence . . .
Scott loses out to Bakst for the title role of a new opera, Medea Refracted. Her dressing room becomes steeped in poignant reflections on love, loss and success, and all the while the tattooed DiDonato gives her both classy sassiness and modern believability . . . the artists of the company endear and their performances stick memorably.”
“Great Scott” was designed as a vehicle for the lustrous mezzo Joyce DiDonato, whose career resembles that of the fictional Scott in more than a few respects.
He [Heggie] invents plausible pseudo-Donizetti for the opera-within-the-opera, playing to DiDonato’s dual gifts for coloratura agility and lyric repose . . . “Great Scott” had a shiny first night in the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas Opera’s handsome, resonant home. Jack O’Brien directed with comic flair; Patrick Summers gave the score much-needed forward momentum. DiDonato was in full, bright voice, turning on a dime from slapstick to pathos . .”
Alex Ross – The New Yorker
“Great Scott” had a shiny first night in the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas Opera’s handsome, resonant home. Jack O’Brien directed with comic flair; Patrick Summers gave the score much-needed forward momentum. DiDonato was in full, bright voice, turning on a dime from slapstick to pathos . . .”
“The opera’s title character, Arden Scott, is a celebrated American mezzo-soprano, played to perfection by American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato . . . Rosa’s musical prayer to Vesuvius, in particular, is stunningly beautiful, and DiDonato sang it superbly . . .”
Joshua Kosman – SFGate
“Superstar mezzo Joyce DiDonato portrays Arden Scott, the successful singer who returns to help revive her hometown company with a long forgotten bel canto opera, Rosa Dolorosa . . . DiDonato, displaying her renowned virtuosity in coloratura excerpts, is deeply engaging as a performer full of self-doubt.”
Scott Cantrell – The Dallas Morning News
“This shit is hard!” quips lead mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in a coy aside to the audience during new American opera Great Scott, now in its premiere engagement at The Dallas Opera through November 15. Seem out of place for opera? It’s a perfectly reasonable comment for the contemporary, hip tone of this dynamic, engaging new work by Jake Heggie and Terence McNally that blends opera settings with American football. The slang oozes irony coming from DiDonato, who makes everything she sings throughout the work seem pre-eminently easy-peesy, no matter the degree or scale of difficulty of execution. The show opens with a rehearsal of a “re-discovered” traditional work by fabricated composer Vittorio Bazzetti, “Rosa Dolorosa”, where DiDonato plays a slave girl who ultimately strives to save Pompeii by melodramatically descending via flying harness into the fiery maw of erupting volcano Vesuvius in a hyperbolic, and amazingly lyrical, final “operatic” gesture. DiDonato as diva star Arden Scott enters casually in Act One, strolling on stage through the rehearsing chorus with anxious stage manager hovering, in time to rehearse her first aria downstage center, kneeling beside the rehearsal piano. So simple, so unpretentious. Hard to imagine how anyone in attendance could avoid being blown back immediately and hard in his or her Winspear seat, given the soaring beauty of the music that emerges and DiDonato’s quintessential, exquisite mastery of her first jaw-dropping aria.
Heggie/McNally wrote the challenging, mercurial role of Arden Scott for DiDonato. She executes it – she kills it, in today’s vernacular — with vivacious charm, elegance and an easy modernity that illuminates her consummate skill and talent as a performer at the pinnacle of a distinguished career. Given the sumptuous praise heaped on DiDonato at a national and international level, it’s hard to find new words to describe her awe-inspiring performance. Indefatigable? Graced with a voice to melt hearts and the stamina and resilience to define and drive the show from her first note to the final faux opera aria’s triumphant, tragic conclusion, DiDonato is the real article at supernova scale. She’s a giant of an artist imbuing her art form with boundless love, dignity and profound, breathtaking talent. She is “the BOMB” . . .
In the opera program, librettist McNally wonders, “Where is opera in the American DNA?” It’s right here, with Great Scott, spot on: affectionate, wry, warm, facetious and deep in turn, multi-faceted and glorious in its musical variety and style . . . Prepare yourself for Joyce DiDonato as Arden Scott; she will simply knock your socks off.”
Alexandra Bonifield – Criticalrant.com