Joyce DiDonato Triumphs on European Recital Tour
The Mezzo’s “Rossini Season” continues on stage and screen, with EMI releasing DVD of her famous wheelchair-bound performance in Il barbiere di Siviglia, recorded last summer.
Few singers on the international scene are enjoying a love affair with critics and audiences quite like mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. The exuberant, engaging Kansas native – dubbed today’s “most user-friendly diva” by Opera News – completed a recital tour of Europe last month that left reviewers throwing superlatives like bouquets. After the singer’s performance of Italian romances at the Wigmore Hall, critic Hilary Finch wrote in the Times of London: “DiDonato’s sheer love of sharing what she was doing radiated warmth into the raw night air.”
Finch went on to praise not only DiDonato’s stage charisma but her vocal prowess: “DiDonato’s voice is at present nothing less than 24-carat gold. Not one note is less than perfectly pitched, not one weak spot is heard throughout the register; and DiDonato is in total control. As the body stands totally still, the voice responds to every nerve-ending in the music with nuances of color.”
DiDonato’s recital tour – presenting a program that ranged from 17th-century arie antiche and early Beethoven songs to her knockout specialty of Rossini – took the singer from Madrid, Barcelona, and the Canary Islands to London and Brussels. Reporting on the two Wigmore Hall recitals, Opera Today noted an episode that illustrated the American mezzo’s “user-friendly” charm: “The first half of the recital closed with DiDonato’s signature Rossini – the ‘Willow Song’ from Otello… . DiDonato’s relaxed demeanor was revealed when, just as she drew breath, a mobile phone interrupted proceedings: ‘It’s Otello,’ she quipped, ‘Tell him it’s not true.’ Unfazed and undistracted, the purity and transcendence of her performance was spell-binding.”
DiDonato’s embodiment of Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia has been celebrated around the world, having been seen by millions in opera houses, international broadcasts, and high-definition transmissions, including one from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. But her most famous turn as Rosina came last June after she broke one of her legs in a slip on stage. In a story relayed by media across the globe, DiDonato kept singing after breaking her leg during a performance of Barbiere at London’s Covent Garden. Although she was in pain, DiDonato continued the evening’s performance with a cane – and was then whisked to the hospital. She finished the run of shows wearing a bright pink cast while navigating the set in a wheelchair – and winning hearts as a peerless trouper.
On April 6, EMI releases a DVD of this Covent Garden production of Il barbiere with DiDonato in her famous pink cast. From the wheelchair, she sings Rosina alongside Juan Diego Flórez’s Count Almaviva and Alessandro Corbelli’s Bartolo. Royal Opera House music director Antonio Pappano conducts the production, which is directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. Just before her first wheelchair-bound performance, DiDonato told London’s Evening Standard: “If Moshe and Patrice had said before we started, ‘We’re going to put you in a wheelchair,’ I would have declared it pure Eurotrash and stormed out. I got introduced to my wheelchair at about five o’clock and had just half an hour of preparation onstage beforehand. In the story, Rosina is caged; the beautiful thing is that tonight that became something quite literal: I felt trapped in the wheelchair. That helped dramatically. This was one of the most thrilling nights I’ve ever spent in the theater.” Joyce DiDonato’s upcoming engagements:
Lyric Opera of Chicago Conductors: Sir Andrew Davis (Feb 28; March 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 20) Leonardo Vordoni (March 15, 22, 24, 27) Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (Cherubino) Also: March 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 27
May 5 Geneva, Switzerland Grand Théatre de Genève / Paolo Arrivabeni Rossini: La donna del lago (Elena – role debut) Also: May 7, 9, 11, 14, 17
June 14 Paris, France Opéra National de Paris / Roberto Abbado Rossini: La donna del lago (Elena) Also: June 18, 21, 24, 27, 30
June 16 Paris, France Théatre des Champs-Élysées Recital
July 9 Milan, Italy Teatro alla Scala / Jean-Christophe Spinosi Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina) Also: July 12, 15, 17, 20, 23 Learn more at www.JoyceDiDonato.com