About the album
Music programme includes specially commissioned Eden anthem ‘The First Morning of the World’ from academy award-winning composer Rachel Portman
Erato album released February 25, 2022
International tour begins March 2, 2022
Every audience member to receive a seed to plant as they’re asked:
‘In this time of upheaval, which seed will you plant today?’
From prison reform, the plight of refugees, the need for music education for all, to the industry-defining In War and Peace, opera superstar Joyce DiDonato has long been an artist who has dedicated herself to creating and initiating projects that challenge and galvanise the public, transcending the physical confines of the concert hall.
EDEN is DiDonato’s latest multi-faceted initiative, one that she will dedicate much of her time over the next four years to, uniting music, drama, and education to confront questions of our individual connection to Nature. Comprised of a tour of over 45 venues across five continents between 2022-24, an Erato album, ground-breaking education programme, and multiple partnerships, EDEN’s long-term impact and legacy will be far reaching.
DiDonato’s passionate belief, and the driving force behind EDEN, is that a collective return to our “best selves” is needed to not only address our current climate crisis, but the crisis of heart, as well. By examining our relationship to the natural world and our unique place within it, EDEN invites the listener to explore and search for answers about belonging, purpose, and healing.
“With each passing day,” writes DiDonato, “I trust more and more in the perfect balance, astonishing mystery and guiding force of the natural world around us, how much Mother Nature has to teach us. EDEN is an invitation to return to our roots and to explore whether or not we are connecting as profoundly as we can to the pure essence of our being, to create a new EDEN from within and plant seeds of hope for the future.”
Alongside her long-standing orchestral partners, Il Pomo d’Oro and conductor Maxim Emelyanychev DiDonato will collaborate with stage director Marie Lambert and Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman, combining music from different genres with a stage setting designed to connect the audience with the very heart of the natural world around us.
DiDonato describes how, in challenging times, contact with the natural world in conjunction with her musical life makes her “feel connected and sense that I’m an integral part of something bigger. A seed is awakened within me. This is precisely when I seek out the comfort and connection of music: with each passing day I trust more and more in the perfect balance, astonishing mystery, and guiding force of the musical world. Both nature and music are showing us the way – a way dictated by harmony and balance. Will we answer the call?”
The Erato album EDEN is released on February 25th, 2022 and the international tour begins on March 2, 2022 in Brussels. The repertoire for both is richly diverse, pulling from the timeless theme of nature which has captivated composers over the centuries with each track exploring an aspect of humankind’s relationship with nature and will, in DiDonato’s words, “have no boundaries – like a wild garden.”
Ranging from the 17th to the 21st century, and embracing such composers as Handel, Gluck, Wagner, Mahler, Ives, Copland and Oscar-winner Rachel Portman – who DiDonato has commissioned to write a new work specially for EDEN – the programme is at the heart of this visionary project.
Crossing a number of musical genres, EDEN opens with two pieces that pose questions: dating from 1908, Charles Ives’s enigmatic The Unanswered Question, in which DiDonato sings lines usually assigned to a trumpet, and a new commission from the Academy Award winning British composer Rachel Portman. For EDEN, Portman has teamed up with American poet and writer Gene Scheer to compose The First Morning of the World. Scheer, admired for his collaborations with such prominent composers as Jake Heggie (including the song cycle Camille Claudel: Into the fire, written for DiDonato and released on Erato in 2018) acknowledges, through its evocative text, that this is a moment rife with questions, wondering about “the sounds and the songs from the first morning of the world.”
An oratorio aria by Josef Mysliveček is taken from a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve, as the Angel of Justice utters a stern and bitter warning to his people. From the earlier part of the 18th century Handel is represented by his famous “Largo”, a breathtaking ode to the refreshing shade of a plane tree. The early glories of Italian opera are evoked in an aria from Cavalli’s opera of gods and humans, La Calisto. Its story opens on a scorched, arid landscape, but it ends with Calisto, its heroine, ascending to the stars.
Integral to EDEN is a new and industry-defining model that will set a new standard for the local impact artists can have in amplifying the power of their performances. By engaging with multiple international partners, EDEN ensures that its education and community work is central to the project, and that its legacy is real and long-lasting.
As International Teaching Artists Collaborative (ITAC)’s Climate Ambassador, DiDonato has been working with them on the design and delivery of EDEN Engagement—an interdisciplinary music-nature education and community programme for children’s choirs and school groups across the globe, under the guidance of Eric Booth, Co-Founder of ITAC. The vision is to employ local Teaching Artists in every city on the tour, and work with them to amplify young peoples’ and others’ experiences of EDEN, using their voices and creative projects to gain a deeper understanding of nature and their direct impact within the world. Local children’s choirs will also get the opportunity to perform on stage with DiDonato in the EDEN concerts.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International and DiDonato have created The EDEN Sustainability Challenge that poses simple goals which demonstrably bring a more sustainable lifestyle. BGCI are providing native seeds for audience members to plant, bringing a rare and singular opportunity for the classical music community to literally and collectively plant a new “EDEN” across the globe, actively participating in regeneration, awareness and creation.
TRACKLIST – EDEN
Charles Ives 1874-1954
The Unanswered Question
Rachel Portman b.1960
The First Morning of the World*
Gustav Mahler 1860-1911
“Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft!”
Biagio Marini 1594-1663
Scherzi e canzone Op.5
“Con le stelle in ciel che mai”
Josef Mysliveček 1737–1781
Oratorio Adamo ed Eva (Part II)
Aria: “Toglierò le sponde al mare” (Angelo di giustizia)
Aaron Copland 1900-1990
8 Poems of Emily Dickinson for voice and chamber orchestra
Nature, the gentlest mother
Giovanni Valentini c.1582–1649
Francesco Cavalli 1602–1676
Opera La Calisto (Act I, Scene 14)
Aria: “Piante ombrose” (Calisto)
Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714–1787
Opera Orfeo ed Euridice Wq. 30
Danza degli spettri e delle furie. Allegro non troppo
Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714–1787
Scena ed aria Misera, dove son! From Ezio Wq. 15 (Fulvia)
Scena: “Misera, dove son!… ”
Aria: “Ah! non son io che parlo…”
George Frideric Handel 1685–1759
Dramatic oratorio Theodora HWV 68 (Part I)
Aria: “As with Rosy steps the morn” (Irene)
“Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”
Richard Wagner 1813–1883
5 Gedichte für eine Frauenstimme WWV 91 (Wesendonck Lieder)
George Frideric Handel
Opera Serse HWV 40 (Act I, Scene 1)
Recitativo: “Frondi tenere e belle”
Aria: “Ombra mai fù” (Serse)
An album to focus us on our relationship to nature, delivered with passion by Joyce DiDonato and her colleagues – a powerful example of how music can relate so well to our wider world.Gramophone
DiDonato's voice is truly one of nature's great wonders: luminous, silken, flexible, full of colors and expressive shadings, always supported by the breath so even the finest threads of tone shine. In an aria from Handel's Theodora, one long-lined phrase offers a radiant example: "Raise our hopes of endless light." Joyce DiDonato's Eden may not have all the answers, but it raises the right questions.NPR
Joyce DiDonato’s formidable powers continue to extend far beyond the concert hall... This is a highly commendable recording that commands serious attention for both its music and its message.Classical Music Magazine
Joyce DiDonato’s formidable powers continue to extend far beyond the concert hall… Programmed with depth and imagination, the album explores humankind’s interaction with nature from a range of perspectives, deftly incorporating some four centuries of music… It is perhaps no surprise that the various 18th-century works find DiDonato on especially thrilling form, from the gorgeous tumult she summons in ‘Toglierò le sponde al mare’… Yet DiDonato shines, too, in the more contemporary works.BBC Magazine
She’s on top form here, the purity and incisiveness of her lithe instrument giving voice to composers as varied as Ives, Mysliveček, and Wagner, as well as the baroque masters she’s built her career on.Limelight Magazine
Her creamy sound, precise, nuanced diction, and ability to convey intensity through stillness communicate deep sincerity. It’s a beautiful album.Classical Voice North America
Joyce DiDonato’s latest album opens on the eeriest of notes - a version of Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question that replaces the solo trumpet with the American mezzo soprano’s mystical, wordless vocalisation. It sets the scene for a programme intended as a reset after Covid, or as she puts it, “a vivid musical exploration through the centuries to remember and to create a new Eden from within.” But my goodness, how the Ukraine catastrophe suddenly throws new light on that. Nonetheless, a glowing optimism shines through these performances with the SCO’s Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the original instrumental ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro. As well as a warmly-spun premiere recording of Rachel Portman’s The First Morning Of The World, the repertoire ranges from ebullient Renaissance and irresistible Handel to Wagner and Copland.The Scotsman
Joyce DiDonato, soprano (1-6,8,10-16)
Il Pomo d’Oro
Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor
Release date: February 25, 2022
Number of Discs: 1
Format: CD, mp3, vinyl