Joyce DiDonato Sings Handel Arias in Salzburg Festival Debut on August 2

Makes Festival Appearances at Aix-en-Provence , Edinburgh , and London ’s BBC Proms

After famously soldiering on after breaking her leg during a performance at London’s Royal Opera House, the irrepressible mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato continues her summer at some of Europe ’s most celebrated festivals. Before the opening of Il barbiere di Siviglia at Covent Garden, DiDonato sang alongside a starry cast at the Royal Opera’s “soirée musicale” – among them baritone Thomas Hampson and tenor Joseph Calleja – accompanied at the piano by Antonio Pappano, the opera company’s music director. Among the star mezzo-soprano’s summer engagements is a surprise appearance at the Salzburg Festival on August 2, during which she will sing a solo concert of Handel arias from her recently released EMI recording Furore.

On June 25, London ’s Independent newspaper bubbled over with enthusiasm for a “hurriedly prepared concert party” assembled from the remarkable talent on hand at Covent Garden when Dmitri Hvorostovsky cancelled a solo recital because of a sudden indisposition. The new concert offered many excellent contributions and a preview of DiDonato’s next recording for EMI Classics:

“This hurriedly prepared concert party felt so deliciously informal and spontaneous and so not ‘last minute’ that you could only wonder at how such diverse material had been assembled and prepared with such diligence and at such speed. The answer, of course, is Antonio Pappano, whose hands-on stewardship of this house inspires artists to go the extra distance for him. It is a measure of the respect he commands (to say nothing of his persuasiveness) that Thomas Hampson and Joseph Calleja – performing La traviata the following night – and Joyce DiDonato, rehearsing The Barber of Seville, gave up their free time to avert cancellation.

“Who knew, for instance, that Pappano was such a natural jazzer? Here he twinkled and sashayed around Joyce DiDonato as she teased out the dusky charms of ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ from Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat. It’s amazing just how much a number like this has in common with the enticing come-ons of Rossini’s song triptych La regata veneziana where the sultry Anzoleta offers her own very particular incentives to her dreamy oarsman. It was nothing if not a good warm-up for next week’s I. And there was more Rossini, with DiDonato limpidly navigating the genteel arabesques of the ‘Willow Song’ from Otello.”

In her reprise Royal Opera House performances in Rossini’s I, which the fearless mezzo performed in a wheelchair, DiDonato appeared opposite her frequent stage-partner Juan Diego Floréz as Almaviva. The pair’s performance at the Metropolitan Opera in the same comedy created international excitement in 2007 as a Met: Live in HD transmission. And, in the coming fall, a DVD of their colorful 2008 performance of Rossini’s Cenerentola at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu is slated for international release.

Ms. DiDonato’s next big international festival debut is at Salzburg, where she sings a “Furore” program of Handel arias to replace colleague Rolando Villazón – an invitation possibly inspired by her April Vienna State Opera debut in the Barber of Seville, which evidently won over the audience. It was described in the local press (as well as by the local correspondent for Opera News) with effulgent praise:

“Ms. DiDonato … tossed off crystal-clear coloratura, presented a dark, secure low register, a confidently nuanced mid-range, bright and voluminous high notes – in short, everything that makes for great, modern, bel canto style. … She appears undaunted by the role’s many technically tricky passages, and what’s more, she sang musically challenging variations on every repeated phrase, designed every single bar with brio, and presented a psychologically multi-faceted characterization with wildly joyful abandon.” – Wiener Zeitung
“She vamped, camped and cavorted her way into the Viennese public’s heart. Ravishing in powder blue, she dazzled the hearer with interpolations verging on the impossible (I was reminded of Beverly Sills’s sometimes wild improvisations), highlighted by a stunning trill. Basically, she blew everyone else off the stage.” – Opera News

Joyce DiDonato to make Salzburg Festival debut
DiDonato’s Salzburg program, with the Gabrieli Consort and Players conducted by Paul McCreesh, includes a selection of Handel arias she recorded for her recent Billboard-charting EMI/Virgin Classics CD Furore, a worldwide bestseller. She warms up for Salzburg in her return to France’s Festival of Aix-en-Provence a few days earlier, with Christophe Rousset and his baroque ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques – the same forces on the Furore disc. Two more festival engagements follow: DiDonato performs Haydn’s 1795 solo cantata “Berenice che fai” (Scena di Berenice) – a 13-minute tour-de-force – with Sir Roger Norrington and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, first in Edinburgh, where she makes her debut (August 22), and then in her return to London’s BBC Proms on August 25.

The popular American mezzo’s first engagement of the new season is another role debut – her second consecutive season-start in a new Berlioz part – as Marguérite in La damnation de Faust in concert with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev (last fall it was staged performances of Béatrice et Bénédict with Houston Grand Opera).

The artist’s website is www.joycedidonato.com;
her blog is www.yankeediva.blogspot.com.

Joyce DiDonato: Selected engagements, Summer 2009:
July 27
Aix-en-Provence Festival, France
Furore – concert of Handel arias
Christophe Rousset / Les Talens Lyriques

August 2
Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Festival (debut)
Furore – concert of Handel arias
Paul McCreesh / Gabrieli Consort and Players

August 22
Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Festival (debut)
Haydn: Scena di Berenice
Sir Roger Norrington
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

August 25
London, UKBBC PROMS
Haydn: Scena di Berenice
Sir Roger Norrington
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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