Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joyce DiDonato triumphs onstage and with new CD

Joyce DiDonato has just completed a month of astonishing accomplishments, in concert, on television, in movie theaters, and with the release of her first solo recording on EMI’s Virgin Classics label. DiDonato’s new solo CD of Handel Arias – Furore – is riding high on the Billboard chart, she’s just hosted the PBS TV broadcast of the glittering Richard Tucker Gala, as well as the Met Opera’s high-definition transmission of Gluck’s gorgeous Orfeo in movie theaters all over the world, and she’s riding high on critics’ lists – not just for the new Virgin Classics disc, but for her tour dates in European capitals and at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

What critics are saying about Furore:
Giving Furore the nod, Opera News said: “DiDonato struts her Handelian stuff … excels in this schizoid stuff … A genuine theatrical intellect drives the performance … the singer effectively alternates heartbreak and pathos with outbreaks of slashing scales of anger.” Britain’s Guardian enthused: “The American mezzo showed that her range of technical skills was fully equal to the tasks Handel sets in this compendium of what are usually termed ‘rage arias’,” while the nation’s BBC declared: “DiDonato has scored a triumph with this performance which not only shows her phenomenal technical talent, but verily crackles with dramatic fire.”

Likewise, Music Web Intern ational raved: “At an international level, there are very few artists of this stature, probably no more than a dozen in the world today.” French website Fashions-Addict.com recommended Furore as “a perfect gift … a spectacular album of vocal fireworks, extreme notes, and unbelievable vocal effects.” In Germany meanwhile, after a top music critic for Die Welt endorsed the album as “a custom-made operatic downbeat for the Handel Year,” the German Association of Music Critics gave DiDonato’s CD a coveted Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (formal German for a nice big wet kiss!)

What critics are saying about DiDonato’s live performances:
London’s Times described DiDonato’s concert date in the capital as “an electrifying revelation of Handel’s theatrical genius,” and asked: “Would we tire of seeing DiDonato relentlessly psyching herself up for yet another outpouring of furore?” before responding unequivocally, “Far from it!” After an equally furious appearance at London ’s glittering Royal Opera House, the Daily Telegraph named the mezzo “Opera’s biggest diva of 2008 – Joyce DiDonato, spitting rage and venom as a stupendous Elvira in Don Giovanni.” Not to be outdone, France ’s Le Point described her Handel concert as “fracassante”, or “shattering”.

DiDonato’s hometown paper, the Kansas City Star, endorsed its favorite diva, saying: “Some performers just seem to have it all. … THE musical event of the season… . She is a homegrown diva – a Prairie Village native whose voice blossomed in college, and who attracted the attention of musicians and music lovers around the world. … DiDonato was in extraordinary form throughout the concert.”

For one of the three concerts she gave at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the space of eight days, “Joyce DiDonato won prolonged ovations for her rich, agile, and charmingly coy singing in [Rossini’s] La regata veneziana,” said the New York Times, continuing, “Ms. DiDonato was especially fine in Mozart’s “Ch’io mi scordi di te?”

And the crowning glory for DiDonato’s scrapbook? Another kiss blown by the esteemed New York Times:

“The superb mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato raised the emotional temperature to the boiling point while expressing infinite shades of pain and fury in her [Handel] arias. … A gripping rendition of ‘Morirò, ma vendicata’ was a fine showpiece for Ms. DiDonato’s tasteful vibrato and dazzling coloratura. From the opening note, with an exquisite swell (matched by the oboist), her impassioned performance left you feeling deeply sorry for Medea, the heartbroken witch. … ‘Crude furie’ from Serse [was] another display of coloratura fireworks and powerful top notes.. … The program concluded with excerpts from Hercules, including a tormented performance of ‘Where Shall I Fly’. … ‘That’s enough madness for one evening,’ Ms. DiDonato said before her two encores: a lovely ‘Ombra mai fù’ from Serse and a dazzling ‘Dopo notte’ from Ariodante.”

An avid blogger and photographer, DiDonato maintains a lively online diary replete with pictures: www.yankeediva.blogspot.com has been noted enthusiastically by critics and public alike. Her website is at www.joycedidonato.com.

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