“Hailed by the New York Times as the ‘perfect 21st century diva’, Joyce DiDonato, a 2012 Grammy Award Winner is Musical America’s 2013 Vocalist of the Year”.
Pamela Tsai, The Epoch Times, December 2012
“DiDonato has a way of capturing extreme emotions without resorting to excess: she is a singer not only of flair and power but of intelligence and taste”.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker, November 2012
“The staggering, joyful artistry of Joyce DiDonato reminds us that in any generation there are a few giants. Joyce is not only a great, brave and inspiring artist – one of the finest singers of our time- but she is also a transformative presence in the arts. Those who know her repertoire are in awe of her gifts, and those who know nothing of it are instantly engaged. Joyce sings and the world is suddenly brighter. She compels us to listen actively, to hear things anew.”
Jake Heggie, Gramophone, May 2012
Juan Diego Flórez and Friends Gala Concert / Barbican
“When the mezzo Joyce DiDonato is among that number, thrills, not to say trills, are guaranteed.”
“DiDonato provoked tempestuous applause with a scintillating Nacqui all'affanno (I was born to grieve) from the same opera. Later, now dressed not in flowing multicoloured gown but in a black trouser suit, she turned herself into an impassioned Romeo, threatening vengeance in Se Romeo t'uccise un figlio (Though Romeo killed your son) from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Some might say she stole the show…”
Fiona Maddocks, Guardian, April 2013
“…the evening belonged to DiDonato, on stupendous form in excerpts from Rossini's Cenerentola and Bellini's I Capuleti ed i Montecchi.”
Tim Ashley, Guardian, April 2013
“…DiDonato brought the house down with ‘Nacqui all’affano’: the coloratura just got more stylish, virtuosic and thrilling.”
Peter Reed, Classical Source, April 2013
“His performance of the Duke’s arias from Rigoletto made you long to see him in the role, but despite all this it was still the memory of DiDonato’s “Se Romeo” from Bellini’s I Capuletti e i Montecchi that lingered as we left the Barbican Hall.”
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, April 2013
“DiDonato then pulled out all the stops for Cenerentola’s “Nacqui all’affanno”, decorating the cadenza with cascades of glittering ornaments (including a properly executed trill). Similarly impressive in a more austere manner was her magnificently authoritative account of Romeo’s aria from Capuleti e Montecchi.”
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, April 2013
“… DiDonato deservedly scooped up the loudest applause and was in fine fettle in every way. Dazzlingly brilliant and flexible technique, incisive acting, heartfelt emotions: the virtues kept tumbling out of Rossini’s showstopper Nacqui all’affanno. Her Romeo aria from Bellini’s I Capuleti e Montecchi hit home just as surely.”
Geoff Brown, Times, April 2013
Drama Queens Tour of Spain and France 2013
Valencia, Valladolid, Toulouse, Barcelona, Madrid and Oviedo
“The U.S. mezzo-soprano paid splendid tribute to the queens of melodrama, getting inside its torn skin with vocal virtuosity…”
“DiDonato's performance met all expectations and was the perfect combination of style and poise on stage. With admirable breath control that allowed her to control sound projection with agility for coloratura and with a broad tessitura, her lyrical voice was beautiful in colour and, above all, temperament. This diva could transmit speech, emotion and warmth in her singing.”
Alicia Huerta, El Imparcial Noticias, March 2013
“DiDonato sang "Da torbida procella" by Orlandini as her encore, for which the audience went wild. They were so appreciative that she had to return to the stage three times.”
Javier Neira, La Nueva Espana
, March 2013
“There were five encores to the disbelief of soloist and orchestra”
“Her exemplary diction, sense of style and expression has an easiness, which comes so naturally to DiDonato.”
Jorge Binaghi, Mundoclassico, March 2013
“Joyce DiDonato sings, acts and unifies the various states of passion.”
“In the huge concert hall, the sublime moment arrived with the aria ‘Piangerò la sorte mía’ by Handel and 'Lasciami piangere' by Kaiser. Both projected an emotion that was palpable in the auditorium. The night ended with three encores.”
“DiDonato expressed superb vocal and musical talent”
“This was one of the best vocal concerts in recent seasons. About eight uninterrupted minutes of applause and bravos proved this.”
Ramon Avello, elcomercio.es, March 2013
“Her capacity for bel canto singing and DiDonato’s thoughtful acting, give us sufficient reasons to prefer live performance.”
“Introspection and anger, passion and lyricism: it is well known that Joyce DiDonato is capable of doing everything…”
Santiago Martín Bermúdez, Concerto Net, March 2013
“A true marathon of opera running to the delight of fans around the world.”
“One must witness her perfect musical artistry to realise how she is able to control the most complex style in the history of opera.”
“The prodigious length of breath, unwavering support and sustaining technique, the coloratura, the trills and messa di voces complement the vocal portrait of this singer. The picture would be incomplete if we did pay attention to the art of declamation and a sense of her tremendous dramatic incarnation. Each aria becomes a peak of emotion.”
“An exceptional recital!”
Robert Pénavayre, Classic Toulouse, March 2013
“A full house and a standing ovation after more than two hours of concert and encore: the Public Theatre du Capitole booked a triumphant Joyce DiDonato, a true opera queen in her red dress silk, specially designed for her by Vivienne Westwood.”
“Her voice is used here to its fullest extent, to express emotion through the air. Holding the line, subtle inflections reveal a great fluid technique. We find these qualities in Octavia’s aria from L'incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi, beautifully phrased. Later, Joyce DiDonato says her vocal agility is suitable for virtuoso arias… even vocalisations carry a theatrical feel.”
Anne-Marie Chouchan, La Dépêche, March 2013
Drama Queens Tour 2013
“The rapturous applause from a spellbound audience warranted no fewer than three encores and rather than reverting to more obvious crowd pleasers it was gratifying to see Ms DiDonato choose a piece by Reinhard Keiser, a composer who is now acknowledged to be a formative influence on the young Handel. The inclusion also of another aria from Giuseppe Orlandini’s Berenice, a hint that what was almost lost may just possibly be given an outing in its entirety at some later date!”
All in all – a most memorable evening!”
Andrew Wales, Sinfini, February 2013
“It’s refreshing to hear a recital without too many old warhorses, with a variety of known and unknown composers represented; a credit to DiDonato’s sophisticated taste. With their careful balance of unrestrained passion and an outstanding sophistication of vocal technique, it’s performances like DiDonato’s that keep academics guessing and, indeed, allow critics to focus slightly more on meaning rather than the miscellanea of performance.”
Michael Migliore, Musical Criticism, February 2013
“DiDonato intelligently stressed vocal and dramatic contrast.”
“her agile mezzo is in fine fettle, and her physical presence and vocal colours well-tailored to text and musical line.”
“…the audience screamed their enthusiasm”
Neil Fisher, Times, four stars, March 2013
“The lowest point in the fortunes of Cleopatra in Handel's Julius Caesar was realised through DiDonato's immaculately shaped line in Piangerò. In an aria from Orlandini's Berenice, in which the queen of Palestine likens her uncertain fate to a ship on stormy seas, DiDonato's ability to run up and down the scales was highly impressive; by the time she reached the Persian princess Rossane in Handel's Alessandro, she had upped her game to extraordinary. DiDonato is always communicative, adept at the finer points of concert presentation. Here, from her flamboyant Vivienne Westwood frock, to her gestures of acknowledgement to her co-performers, her platform manner was perfect.”
George Hall, Guardian, February 2013
“DiDonato’s recital with the splendidly dynamic Il Complesso Borocco and their highly physical, pony-tailed, director Dmitry Sinkovsky was a smorgasbord of Baroque edibles entitled “Drama Queens” designed to show off the American mezzo’s virile and malleable instrument to the full. There were tender morsels it seemed extraordinary we had never heard of – deftly nuanced – and there were the usual hell-hath-no-fury pyrotechnics where DiDonato’s coloratura was immaculate, unaspirated, and all in the same place vocally. Impressive”.
Edward Seckerson, February 2013
“For Giacomelli’s melancholy Sposa, son disprezzata… DiDonato’s talents came into focus, as she spun a seamless legato that managed to be both sharply taut and gently inflected.”
“Having brought the programmed proceedings to a nice climax with a cheerful show-stopper from his Alessandro, she sent us home with a lovely encore in the shape of an exquisitely elegiac gem from an otherwise forgotten score by Kaiser”.
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, February 2013
“DiDonato returned to regain her crown with a saucy number from Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, Da torbida procella (“I am tossed like a ship”), colouring the narrative with coquettish little legatos, switching from head to chest, from chest to head with ease. A cheeky, sexy end to the first half”.
“Mezzo Joyce DiDonato’s latest tour, with the catchy title “Drama Queens,” brought her to the Barbican last week. If you’re lucky enough to be in Spain or France over the next month or so, you can catch future dates. It’s a hot tip.
The repertoire, all composed for royal operatic characters, mixes familiar and unfamiliar baroque arias. She shows off her glistening voice and impossibly fleet coloratura in arias by Handel and Orlandini”.
Warwick Thompson, Bloomberg, February 2013
“She does the luxurious stuff so well, it’s easy to forget what a delicate thing her voice can be when hushed to a sotto, or mezza, voce. Both flicker with a vulnerability born of a delicate vibrato. This came out in the Ifigenia in Aulide aria from Giovanni Porta, Madre diletta, abbracciami (“Dearest mother, embrace me”). Her soft enunciation of the opening Madre was a masterclass in musicality.
Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Arts Desk, February 2013
Recording: Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies / CD EMI CLASSICS 3 19301 2
The John Wilson Orchestra & Maida Vale singers / cond. John Wilson
“...Joyce DiDonato is a long way from Rossini in this repertoire, but she brings exceptional artistry and emotional power to a pair of Rodgers’s greatest anthems, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’. How refreshing it is to hear these numbers delivered by a voice that isn’t teetering on the brink of superannuation! How marvellous, indeed, to renew acquaintance with timeless melodies that have been revived so lovingly, performed so thrillingly and recorded so sumptuously”.
Mark Valencia, Classical Source, December 2012
Title Role of Donizetti Maria Stuarda / Metropolitan Opera
cond. Maurizio Benini / dir. David McVicar
“She and McVicar have wisely opted to play up Maria’s piety and anxiety: her gestures are small, her pianissimo singing ravishing, but she has the stature to stand up to Elisabetta. Her artistry is remarkable: trills, roulades, upwards and downwards chromatic runs are all at the service of the character. This is true bel canto singing and DiDonato’s lengthy final scenes are a marathon of great singing-acting”.
Robert Levine, Opera Now, March 2013
“From the moment she made her entrance in the second scene, singing of her joy in strolling outside her prison in Fotheringhay Castle, DiDonato riveted attention. She imbued every syllable with a concentrated eloquence that makes her compact voice seem larger than it is. She displayed seemingly effortless command of coloratura embellishments throughout a wide vocal range.And she was equally impressive in fiery outbursts and in hushed, long-held phrases, like the ones she spun out as she sang through the chorus in the final scene”.
Mike Silverman, Kansas City Star, January 2013
“Ms. DiDonato sang the title role with thoughtfulness, polish and a range of colors, and she hit her acting marks diligently…The city has long been lucky to have Ms. DiDonato, an artist whose interests stretch from Baroque to contemporary opera and whose enthusiasm, onstage and off, is infectious. There is no major singer in the world today who is sweeter and more lovable.”
Zachary Woolfe, The New York Observer, January 2013
“In the long and demanding title role of the opera, the American mezzo offered lean, crisp tone and meticulous musicality. She sustained the long, soaring lines with seemingly infinite breath and shaped the phrases with nuanced dynamics.
James Jorden, NY Post, January 2013
“Her first aria "O nube! Che lieve par l'aria ti aggiri" is a reflection on Mary's youth in the French countryside. DiDonato sung the aria delicately without ever really using the full resources of her voice. The quality almost felt dream-like and the nostalgia dominated the singing. It portrayed the initial fragile state of the heroine wondrously. During the ensuing love duet however, DiDonato brought more potency as she quarrelled with her lover Leicester over how to behave in the presence of Elizabeth. DiDonato ended the first act in vicious fashion during the final confrontation scene. She prostrated herself in front of Elizabeth and did her best to control herself as the latter hurled one insult after another. The inner battle was clear in DiDonato's face until the rage took over and she blasted her rival with the famous insult "The Throne of England is profaned, vile bastard, by your foot" with a raw harsh sound that contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the earlier aria”.
“By the end of the opera, one should feel Mary's growing strength and the idea that her death would finally be liberation from her suffering. DiDonato's performance not only created this catharsis, but revealed the inner beauties of an often overlooked score”.
David Salazar, Latinos Post, January 2013
DiDonato is a masterful interpreter of the role largely because her singing is incomparable, breathtaking … technically she has full control over her expansive voice, employing colorful dynamics (so many shades of silver and red!) with discriminate taste, but still has the sense to sing with a verve that brings Maria to life with vivid force. The most impressive dramatic aspect of her performance was surely the imitation of Parkinson's: any time she was on-stage in Act II her hand and head shook, indicating that years (ten, to be exact) had passed since her confrontation with Elisabetta.
Michael Migliore, Musical Criticism, January 2013
“As Mary, Joyce DiDonato is extraordinary. The award-winning mezzo-soprano from Kansas is at the height of her career—she won last year’s Grammy award and is nominated again this year. A beautiful singing-actress, she delivers a heart-rending performance”.
Barry Bassis, The Epoch Times, January 2013
“Ms. DiDonato’s performance will be pointed to as a model of singing in which all components of the art form — technique, sound, color, nuance, diction — come together in service to expression and eloquence.
In her first scene, when Mary is given a moment of freedom and sees the fields and the trees, Ms. DiDonato infuses her lines with a tender mix of nobility, uncertainty and sadness. When Mary feels happy for a moment, as in her youth, Ms. DiDonato sings the word ‘felice’ with heartbreaking wistfulness. … And Ms. DiDonato summons white-hot fury when she curses Elizabeth, calling her a ‘vile bastard’.
Ms. DiDonato is simply magnificent, singing with plush richness and aching beauty. At a few moments, from the collective sounds of the subdued chorus and orchestra, a pianissimo high note, almost inaudible, emerged from Ms. DiDonato’s voice, slowly blooming in sound and throbbing richness. I left the house not just moved but renewed, and ready to celebrate the arrival of a new year.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, January 2013
“Wearing a black dress and clutching a Bible, the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato walked stiffly on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera… First kneeling, then standing, her aching movements in the final scenes reflected the title character’s physical demise after years of imprisonment.
Ms. DiDonato’s voice took on a hard-edged sheen as she sang ‘Tutto col sangue cancellerò’ (‘For with my blood all is washed away’) from ‘D’un cor che muore’(‘From a dying heart’). In this aria, in which Mary forgives Queen Elizabeth for sending her to her execution, Ms. DiDonato imbued the words with a potency missing from even some of the most beautifully sung recorded interpretations.”
Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, January 2013
“The Metropolitan Opera may have pretty much turned opening night over to the glamorous Anna Netrebko, but New Year’s Eve belongs to a very different diva ― Joyce DiDonato. … On Monday night she brought a gala audience to its feet with a luminous performance in the title role of Donizetti’s ‘Maria Stuarda’.
From the moment she makes her entrance in the second scene, singing of her joy in strolling outside her prison in Fotheringay Castle, DiDonato rivets attention. She imbues every syllable with a concentrated eloquence… She displays seemingly effortless command of coloratura embellishments throughout a wide vocal range. And she is equally impressive in fiery outbursts and in hushed, long-held phrases ― like the ones she spun out as she sang through the chorus in the final scene.
The opera’s dramatic heart is a confrontation between the two queens… DiDonato was impressive in this scene. There was a wonderful touch when, after she had spent her fury, she allowed herself a beatific smile, as if to convey: ‘There! I said it and I’m glad!’”
Mike Silverman, Associated Press, January 2013
“In the long and demanding title role of the opera, the American mezzo offered lean, crisp tone and meticulous musicality. She sustained the long, soaring lines with seemingly infinite breath and shaped the phrases with nuanced dynamics.”
James Jorden, New York Post, January 2013
“Ms. DiDonato is a splendid bel canto singer, and her interpretation of Mary… [has] edge, definition and fire, emphasizing the pride and regal confidence that has endured through Mary's decades of imprisonment, making her a fit antagonist for Elizabeth. Her Mary had many moods. Ms. DiDonato brought a luminous, meditative loveliness to Mary's nostalgic opening aria, in which she thinks back to her home in France; the soft, floating trills were magical. But you could also see the effort required by her attempt at submission to Elizabeth, and her pride resurfaced with ferocious intensity. Equally fascinating was the confession scene, with the turbulence of her guilt giving way to an angelic serenity. Even her final aria—on her way to the block, she forgives Elizabeth—became a demonstration of Mary's victory. She may be losing her head, but as her voice soared above the chorus she had the moral upper hand.”
Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal, January 2013
“The voice at the center of the Met’s production belongs to mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who won overwhelming praise for her portrayal of Maria Stuarda in Houston last spring. DiDonato relishes the vocal possibilities of the title role,... [she] marvels at the richness of this climactic scene, beyond its superficial catfight appeal”.
Ellen Keel, PlaybillArts, December 2012
Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau et Al, arr. Jeremy Sams The Enchanted Island
cond. William Christie / dir. Phelim McDermott
“DiDonato’s transformation from dreadlocked hag to anguished parent to triumphant cougar packs a hefty emotional punch”.
Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, November 2012
Drama Queens Tour 2012
“This absoluteness, this vocal control. What a drama!”
“Diese Unbedingtheit, diese stimmliche Kontrolle. Was für ein Drama!” (Konzerthaus Berlin)
Ulrich Amling, Der Tagesspiegel, November 2012
“The concert (Bremer Glocke) was a exeptional event which was acclaimed very ethusiastically by the audience. An outstanding performance because there is an artist who seemingly easily draws on excellent technical capability. Moreover she delights with her versatility and the consequence to devote herself entirely to the composition and the theatrical development of the particular Opera-character.”
„Das Konzert (Bremer Glocke) war ein Ausnahmeereignis, das vom Publikum entsprechend ethusiastisch bejubelt wurde. Ein herausragender Auftritt deshalb, weil hier eine Künstlerin scheinbar mühelos aus überragenden technischen Möglichkeiten schöpft. Mehr noch begeistert sie durch ihre Wandlungsfähigkeit und die Konsequenz, sich ganz in den Dienst der Komposition und der musikdramatischen Entfaltung der jeweiligen Opern-Charaktere zu stellen.”
Reiner Beßling, Kreiszeitung, November 2012
“Passing through Baden-Baden on the tour which accompanies the release of her new CD, ‘Drama Queens’, Joyce DiDonato gave her German audience a magnificent concert with a substantial programme lasting over two hours [– during which] the diva [expressed] a widely varied palette of emotions, from jealousy to rage, via seduction and fear in the face of death, offering both a balance and a variety of pieces suitable for such a large and varied audience. The performance captured all the flamboyance of the Baroque era.
The way DiDonato held her head, her poise and her perfect starry smile (even during the most virtuosic moments) all contributed to the roles she played: the singer visibly became a queen, from every possible angle! [...] As for her gestures, they were controlled and distinguished, moving between the natural and the extravagant. [...] The perfection of the dress was a tangible counterpoint to the mezzo’s artistry: let’s not forget that the outfit is an integral part of royal presentation.
Joyce DiDonato conquered the audience with sovereign power... Her radiant timbre excelled in the high, powerful, expressive and agile passages. [...] She sang with beauty and with unquestionable authority; her phrasing was perfect and sustained by incredible legato and faultless breath control. Her smooth and sensuous voice melted any aristocratic coolness.
We await the release of the CD with great excitement.”
Catherine Jordy, Forum Opera, November 2012
“In the second aria, Claudio Monteverdi’s aria for Ottavia, Joyce DiDonato had the audience under her spell with her warm and powerful mezzo-soprano voice. The way her voice conjured up the blackest depths of this empress of Rome’s soul made the audience shudder.
Her coloratura passages, with her vibrato soaring into the far distance, were never put on or affected, whether she was singing Monteverdi, Handel, or an aria by the relatively unknown Giovanni Porta.
DiDonato was in perfect accord with Baroque specialist Alan Curtis’ orchestra; they worked well together, and complemented each other in their audible ability to pluck notes out of the air and fill them with meaning”.
Inforadio.de, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato has already made her mark at Baden-Baden Festspielhaus as Donna Elvira. [N]ow, she has the whole stage all to herself.
This was the performance of a mezzo queen. [DiDonato] dominated the concert with her fascinating voice. The perfection of her piani, her ability to suddenly increase the dramatic effect, or to simply whisper a note and shape the mood were all captivating. She began with the fury of Berenice, Queen of Palestine’s aria from Giuseppe Maria Orlandini’s ‘Berenice’, demonstrating how indisputably well she masters light coloratura. [...] In contrast, ‘Intorno all’idol mio’ [was] a beguilingly poetic mixture of lullaby, love song and song of farewell.
The Baroque boom has clearly created great curiosity both amongst performers and the public, which benefits forgotten Baroque composers when great names like Joyce DiDonato and Cecilia Bartoli take up their cause. If this leads to a competition between record labels, this can only be a boost to the Baroque field, and a welcome development for the public”.
Online Musik Magazin, November 2012
“Our music critic Karla Langeheim rarely uses superlatives. But in the case of American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, she was happy to make a few exceptions, since the concert the classical singer gave with the ensemble ‘il Complesso Barocco’ was worthy of quite a few superlatives.
When Joyce DiDonato appeared, expectation immediately turned into enthusiasm. Rarely has a singer won over her audience so completely and so swiftly as this American mezzo. In her impressive red dress, her hair piled up into a tiara, this queen got to work with a smile to tell of the loves and losses of her operatic colleagues from antiquity, as told by composers and librettists from Monteverdi to Gluck. This was a carefully constructed, exciting picture book of the torments and entanglements of women in love. The powerful stage presence of this great singer ensured an irresistibly relaxed mood from the very first note, due to the clear communication between the singer and the audience, right to the very last row. This concert offered a combination of elements that were remarkable in themselves. The chamber orchestra carefully captured and supported the slightest changes and nuances in the voice”.
Pyrmonter Nachrichten, November 2012
“On Monday, [DiDonato] confirmed her reputation as one of the most high-ranking international mezzo-soprano at the Bremer Glocke. The concert was exceptional, and was received with equally exceptional enthusiasm by the audience. This was an outstanding performance, and not just because the artist sang with excellent technical mastery and apparent effortlessness. More than that, she delighted the audience with her versatility, and the fact that she placed herself entirely at the service of the piece, and of the musical and dramatic development of each character. She relished the role of the voice in portraying human emotion, whilst adapting herself to the overall musical synthesis of the performance, in which the orchestra also played a considerable part.
The concert began almost programmatically with Orontea’s ‘Intorno all’idol mio’ from Antonio Cesti’s opera about the Egyptian Queen. The vocal line in this tender song to the beloved blended perfectly with the instrumental ensemble. Emotions, dynamics and volume were controlled, and the intensity grew as the volume diminished. At the end of the first half of the programme, DiDonato opened a window onto a more turbulent sound-world with the aria “Da torbida procella” from Orlandini’s ‘Berenice’. But even in the deepest rage and highest indulgence, the voice was always controlled and the expression refined. Whether dramatic, poetic or narrative, Joyce DiDonato always found the right degree of emphasis, neither exaggerated nor underplayed.
The much –applauded highlights of the concert were Giovanni Porta’s ‘Madre diletta, abbracciami’, Iphigenie’s aria from ‘ifigenia in Aulide’, and Handel’s ‘Brilla nell’alma’ from ‘Alessandro’. The American mezzo is a superb performer of Handel, not least because she shaped the immediate urgency of the melodies and the vividness of the sound better than anyone else. Joyce DiDonato’s coloratura passages were nothing like the athletic galas into which other singers degenerate. The challenges of the vocal technique were demanding even for her, and yet her energy remained committed to expressiveness. She lavished the garlands of ornamentations with a wealth of colours and gestures”.
Kreiszeitung.de, November 2012
In superb voice, she displayed an exceptional smooth and rounded instrument that was strong on bottom and gleamingly solid on top. [...] Supremely demanding coloratura runs, graced by perfect trills in all registers, and a host of improvised ornaments that ratcheted up the degree of difficulty by several notches were negotiated with ease over multiple octaves, seemingly without effort.
[But] the concert [wasn’t] simply about knockout coloratura showpieces. DiDonato’s opening aria [‘Intorno all’idol mio’] was notable for its soft ‘whispering breezes’ and multiple changes in vocal color. [...] Giacomelli’s ‘Sposa son disprezzata’ [gave] DiDonato an opportunity to show how masterfully she can shift from anger to heartbreak and insecurity, all while maintaining an impeccably flowing vocal line.
Every embellishment in [Porta’s ‘Madre diletta abbracciami’] made both musical and emotional sense, expressing a pain deeper than words. That DiDonato managed to maintain emotional inwardness in the midst of such a technical showpiece was nothing short of remarkable.
[N]othing could detract from the beauty of DiDonato’s performance. There may be other mezzos, past and present, who have the gift of diving even deeper into the emotional well of humanity’s shared heart, but few have ever been able to do so with the ease, audience-friendly patter, and technical mastery of Joyce DiDonato. It was a wonderful evening”.
Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice, November 2012
“From the moment she swept onstage in a lavish crimson gown by Vivienne Westwood, the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato embodied the despair (and occasional joy) of these regal heroines of 17th- and 18th-century opera.
The emotional temperature rose quickly during the first half of the program, as [DiDonato] sang ‘Disprezzata regina’[,] ardently conveying the varied shades of Ottavia’s misery. Using silvery trills and silken coloratura she imbued ‘Da torbida procella’ [...] with a thrilling ardor.
[T]here were no glitches with her vocalism: a masterpiece of control, agility and alluring sound throughout her range, with its dusky lows and bright high notes. Her voice took on a plaintive, almost desperate sheen in parts of ‘Piangerò la sorté mia’...
There were more coloratura fireworks during “Brilla nell’alma un non inteso ancor”[,] which concluded the program on a joyous note”.
Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, November 2012
“The series of dramatic moves in [Ottavia’s ‘disprezzata regina’] were all beautifully articulated, and you get a great glimpse of the way DiDonato’s voice can sound alternately velvety, or clear and fragile ...
Her ‘piangerò la sorte mia’ [was] among the most riveting performances [that] I’ve ever heard – by the B section you’re transfixed, and that repeat has that classic DiDonato quality of beautifully executed ornamentation that has expressive force and depth... The same goes for Porta’s ‘madre diletta’, from Ifigenia, Princess of Mycenae where even if you can understand the words, the thrill of the thing is just to hear the expression in every little turn and move of the singing. This is exhausting stuff, in the best way...”
earwormopera.wordpress.com, November 2012
“The problem that modern Americans have with Baroque music is that it is old, stuffy, and boring. So to appeal to a modern audience, the music has got to make that leap from ancient history to the 21st century. The only way that that can happen is with the most skilful of artists. That, I am happy to report, is exactly what New York City had the great pleasure of seeing. [...]
[DiDonato’s] every move was of a drama queen. She even danced as a drama queen. But most importantly, she sang like a drama queen. Ms. DiDonato’s voice is a rare, unique kind of powerhouse that has the ability to drop to the depths then rise flawlessly, and seemingly effortlessly. This fact was made evident from the very first aria to the last. [...]
The second act is really where Ms. DiDonato showed her unrequited vocal beauty. Her interpretation of Piangero la sorte mia from Giulio Cesare showcased her flexibility and musical sensitivity. This aria, usually sung by a soprano, takes on a whole new color and feeling when in the hands of a mezzo. It feels more sorrowful because of the lower register, and puts more weight into the meaning of the text”.
Jake Johansen, Examiner, November 2012
“As Vivien Schweitzer of The New York Times puts it, Joyce DiDonato possesses "an effortless combination of glamour, charisma, intelligence, grace, and remarkable talent." But what really sets her apart is her rare ability to turn a recital into an intimate experience, to make the audience feel at home”.
City Guide NY, November 2012
“She came, she sang, she conquered: Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano from Kansas (USA), Echo Klassik and Grammy Award winner, made the bells ring out in this her first concert in Bremen. Three encores, innumerable curtain calls and the whole range of delighted audience reactions, from earnest shouts of “bravo” to standing ovations, greeted her performance.
[... T]wo Handel arias charmed the audience, and rightly so, as DiDonato made the coloratura skip, the high notes sparkle, and the low notes sombre. Her timbre was warm and round, her voice reflected delicate facets. An effusive outfit (she wore a fiery red creation by Vivienne Westwood and her face was powder-white) and carefully measured acting made the performance perfect”.
Reinhard Rakow, NWZ Online, November 2012
“This was an outstanding performance, and not just because the artist sang with excellent technical mastery and apparent effortlessness. More than that, she delighted the audience with her versatility, and the fact that she placed herself entirely at the service of the piece, and of the musical and dramatic development of each character. She relished the role of the voice in portraying human emotion, whilst adapting herself to the overall musical synthesis of the performance, in which the orchestra also played a considerable part.
Joyce DiDonato, the most exposed artist in this collective, was able to whisk the audience away effortlessly, with her natural and open nature, grounded in her Mid-West American background, and her flair for entertainment. The personality of this very special diva fed into her ‘drama queens’, interspersing her Baroque gestures most effectively with telling musical allusions and jazz phrasing”.
Kreiszeitung.de, November 2012
Recording: Drama Queens / CD Virgin 6026542
Il Complesso Barocco / cond. Alan Curtis
“On her Drama Queens CD, Joyce DiDonato shows us the wealth of contrast within Baroque music and she vocally makes the seemingly impossible become possible…. Cool self-confidence runs alongside joyous excitement.”
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 2013
“Drama queens: I should think that most of us have come across one or two of those but none who can sing as superbly as Joyce DiDonato.”.
“In the slow-moving ‘Lasciami piangere’, DiDonato’s timbre is at it’s most beautiful, her phrasing eloquent, the trills not distracting the smooth flow of the musical line, and Keiser’s writing for the woodwind is graceful”.
“Possibly the most famous of DiDonato’s queens is Cleopatra, the most well-known aria on the disc being her ‘Piangero la sorte mia’ from Handel’s Giulio Cesare. DiDonato performs it (lives it even) with skill, her luscious tone rich in the first section, becoming vibrantly drasmatic in the middle lines’ brief display of coloratura, and sweetened in the final part, to all of which she adds delectable variations”.
‘Da torbida procella’ opens the delights with another display of vocal agility brilliantly accomplished by DiDonato”.
“Also happy is Rossane in Alessandra, expressing ‘sweet contentment’ in lengthy manifestations of joyful fioritura, in which DiDonato is ta her thrilling best”.
“This is a treasure of a disc, for the music, the orchestra and Joyce DiDonato”.
John T. Hughes, International Record Review, February 2013
“Break a leg,” they say in the theatre when wishing a performer good luck. For those of us who watched Joyce DiDonato do that three years ago in the middle of an athletic scene at Covent Garden—then continue to sing for the next 20 minutes—the phrase is synonymous with bravery. But that is just a by-product of the flaring personality which comes across whenever DiDonato is on stage, and which has won her a huge and devoted following. For this blonde bombshell from Kansas—the cliché fits—is both a fine ambassador for opera and an artist at the height of her powers.
She may be classed as a mezzo, but that doesn’t prevent her excelling in soprano roles: she has a timbre which is unfailingly beautiful while also adapting to the demands of the occasion. As her new baroque CD "Drama Queens" reflects, she can switch from sizzling fury to heart-broken softness.”
Michael Church, From Intelligent Life Magazine, January-February 2013
“DiDonato sings the Vivaldi version under Giacomelli's name. It's a very persuasive performance, with some treacherously long phrases easily taken in one breath, some utterly natural ornamentation in the da capo, and a perfect mixture of defiance and helplessness.”
And DiDonato's "Piangerò la sorte mia," from Handel's Giulio Cesare, is fabulous. It is deeply personal without being self-indulgent, it has supreme authority in ornamentation and a cadenza that sounds as if Handel wrote it, and it has devastating mastery of vibrato-less tone from mezzo, flutist and violinists alike. It represents a new career peak for this singer.”
William R. Braun, Opera News, January 2013
“With this mostly offbeat collection of furious or lamenting baroque opera queens, the American diva is making an assault on Cecilia Bartoli territory. There’s no Vivaldi here — although an aria from Giacomelli’s Merope was purloined by the composer for his pasticcio Bajazet — but plenty of his less familiar contemporaries: the long-lived Giuseppe Maria Orlandini (1676-1760), Giovanni Porta and Johann Adolph Hasse, whose Egyptian queen in Antonio e Cleopatra (sung, oddly, by the castrato Farinelli) is no match for Handel’s. DiDonato caresses the plaintive lines of Piangero la sorte mia with the intensity of Bartoli, and brings a mordant, witchy edge to Ma quando tornerai (Handel’s regal sorceress Alcina). Nero’s empress, Octavia, is heard through the operas of Handel’s Hamburg mentor, Reinhard Keiser — a darkly orchestrated, bassoony da capo number — and Monteverdi. Her Disprezzata regina (Despised Queen) is a dramatic and musical climax here, as she rages against her faithless husband and his brazen mistress, Poppea. Among the treasures are the sacrificial heroine’s ravishing plaint from Porta’s Ifigenia in Aulide, and the titular queen of Egypt’s rapt love song to her sleeping beau in Cesti’s Orontea. There’s sprightly support from Alan Curtis’s Italian period band. DiDonato’s fans won’t be disappointed.”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, January 2013
“Joyce DiDonato's magnificent new recital disc is dedicated to the proposition that a Baroque aria is there to give expression to the most fervent and dramatically extreme emotions - and that musical technique serves to give voice to that state of mind. In a series of excerpts by Handel, Monteverdi, Hasse and more, the great American mezzo-soprano puts on one display after another of vocal wizardry, from cascades of rapid-fire, pinpoint coloratura to sustained and immaculately shaped lyrical phrases. The effect is always impressive and beautiful, as any vocal display should be. Yet what raises these performances to a whole different level of splendor is the expressive transparency that DiDonato lavishes on them - listening to these regal women in extremis, you hear exactly how and why they're suffering, and just what it means to them. The repertoire list is fascinating, too, [...] one aria in particular, from Reinhard Keiser’s ‘Galsuinde’, is gorgeous enough to make you want to hear the entire opera”.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, December 2012
Michael Blümke, Concerti, December 2012
“...what this album really offers is another chance to revel in a widely loved singer’s gloriously good performances. [...] DiDonato’s singing is sublime. This woman is a singer down to her bones. She is totally secure at all points of her register – gleaming at the top, rich and grounded at the bottom – with heartfelt lyricism and a musicality that can’t be faked.
DiDonato matches her impeccable technique with keen intelligence and actorly (sic) power. She makes us feel the passions and (to borrow two Baroque-and-before expressions) the humors and affections of characters who today can seem cartoonishly drawn.
DiDonato’s feat is that she makes us believe. And that’s as great a gift as her voice”.
Anastasia Tsioulcas, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, November 2012
“Instead of Handel’s Berenice, we have Orlandi’s Berenice, whose ‘Da torbida procella’ is an ideal for for DiDonato’s spitfire fioritura”.
Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, November 2012
“...the whole gallery of queens created by composers from Handel to Gluck, and from Keiser to Hasse may well rage and rave, but they always keep their stylistic composure. Just like Joyce DiDonato”.
Matthias Siehler, Rondo, October 2012
“For the follow-up to her Grammy-winning Diva Divo, Joyce DiDonato offers an anthology of suitably impassioned royal roles from Baroque operas, their emotional scope ranging from the giddy flush of love evoked by her tremulous coloratura and swooning fades as Berenice in Orlandini's "Da torbida procella", to the self-sacrifice of Porta's Ifigenia, rendered with such poised nobility in "Madre diletta, abbracciami.
Particularly impressive are Handel's ebullient sorceress Alcina, a self-determining spirit willing to wield power in "Ma quando tornerai", and the Empress Octavia of Monteverdi's "Disprezzata regina", in which the dramatic fury of the recitative militates against its resolution into melody”.
Andy Gill, Independent, November 2012
“DiDonato has a way of capturing extreme emotions without resorting to excess: she is a singer not only of flair and power but of intelligence and taste”.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker, November 2012
“Armida meets Octavia, Cleopatra meets Alcina. However, behind the PR gloss of the royal summit meeting there is much musical substance, as is always the case with Joyce DiDonato. This is not a collection of popular opera hits sung to death, but the unearthing of many unknown treasures... An example of such a discovery is Iphigenie’s moving aria, ‘Madre diletta, abbracciami’ (‘Beloved mother, embrace me’) from Giovanni Porta’s opera ‘Ifigenia in Aulide’ (1738). Within the rocking Sicilian rhythm of the 12/8 time signature, the singer creates long lyrical lines. In the Da Capo, she enriches the melodic line with much ornamentation, without losing the musical flow. Her technically perfect coloratura in Berenice’s outbreak of rage ‘Col versar, barbaro. Il sangue’ [...] is sharply defined, compared to Rossane’s light and fluffy joyful exultation in ‘Brilla nell’alma’...
Joyce DiDonato and conductor Alan Curtis do emphasise the emotional impact of the pieces [y]et they never neglect the many shades and nuances which lie between a she-devil and an angel. Queens are only human after all”.
Badische Zeitung, October 2012
“You would expect her to spit poison and gall, and scream blue murder, in order to do justice to her new CD ‘Drama Queens’. But mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is kindness personified. She is open, enthusiastic, ironic, thoughtful yet giggly; a sunny character, but one who can easily become serious when it comes to the important things in life: great art, deep feelings, and singing as a window onto the soul. […] Her new CD is a sparkling gem of great significance”.
Manuel Brug, Die Welt, November 2012
“DiDonato made both [Monteverdi’s ‘Disprezzata regina’ and Giacomelli’s ‘Sposa, son disprezzata’] sound vivid and even quite modern, in the best sense of the word; while it is not surprising that human emotions and afflictions haven’t changed much over the centuries, the fact that the perfect rendition of pieces of that age can still move an audience to be totally immersed is remarkable, especially when the singer is not aided by the visuals of a (hopefully) adequate opera production. [...]
Fuelled by the audience’s excitement, the night’s protagonists even trumped their previous strong performances after the intermission. [...] The official program ended with Handel’s ode to joy ‘Brilla nell’alma’ from Alessandro where DiDonato’s silvery voice glittered like the sun on the blue of the sea she was singing about. [...]
It was a touching moment when an overwhelmed Joyce DiDonato re-entered the stage after her fourth encore and covered her face with her hands for a few moments, not sure what to do in response to the unceasing applause. [...]
This night, for once, no-one associated ‘Drama Queens’ with desperate housewives or girly pop culture; it was an unforgettable concert where the monarchy on the theatrical stage was happily restored – singing and playing could hardly have been more regal”.
Snapdragon, Bach Track, November 2012
“Coloratura runs are lightning fast, angry declamations hurled like thunderbolts — and limpid laments meltingly cooed. [I]t’s all compellingly theatrical. Great choice[s], too, with familiar Handel mingled with rare jewels by Porta, Orlandini and Keiser”
Richard Morrison, Times, November 2012
“Queen of Opera – The brilliant mezzo squares up to music’s most terrifying monarchs on a triumphant new recording ...
From Ancient Egypt to Tudor England, history’s most capricious yet captivating royal heroines are the perfect challenge for Joyce DiDonato, opera’s ruling mezzo-soprano”.
Neil Fisher, BBC Music Magazine, November 2012
“There are alternative options available, and although this is ‘just’ a CD, it showcases EMI’s answer to Decca’s Bartoli. And yes, the CD cover does belong to the genre that Bartoli describes as “glamorous and trivial”. But for all that, Joyce DiDonato sings these coloratura arias as if they were child’s play, displaying a fresh tone, boldly accentuating the phrases that ought to be emphasised, and singing quietly, but without turning every pianissimo into a breathy phrase. In short: DiDonato easily makes up for Bartoli’s shortcomings. And although Bartoli is her role-model, DiDonato’s singing isn’t any worse off for it.
In ‘Drama Queens’, the 43 year old American takes on the abandoned, the betrayed and otherwise tormented queens, singing arias by Giuseppe Orlandini, Giovanni Porta, G F Handel, Rheinhart Keiser, Johann Adolf Hasse and other composers; all written between 1643 and 1784”.
Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, October 2012
“I can only warn you of the impact this CD has. It has such a rousing effect that the listener can no longer sleep at night, and is incapable of doing anything all day apart from pressing the ‘repeat’ button on their CD player. And this effect isn’t caused only by the virtuosically thrilling pieces; the calmer pieces also stir you deeply with their ethereal, melodious sound flowing with sorrow and despair. In her last album, ‘Diva Divo’, I thought that Joyce DiDonato had reached the peak of her vocal prowess, but in ‘Drama Queens’, she goes one step further and shows us greater abilities still. It is amazing how outrageously well the American singer overcomes all the technical challenges with which normal mortal singers have to struggle. Whilst others are busy overcoming the difficulties, DiDonato is tackling the inner life of her characters: her drama queens suffer, flare up and rage with breathtaking intensity. She is a full-blooded artist, for whom expressiveness and intimacy, virtuosity and beauty of sound are not mutually exclusive, but rather which create an addictive cumulative effect ... And that is why I do not hesitate to declare ‘Drama Queens’ my CD of the year, even though there have been many excellent releases in 2012. Five stars with bells on”.
„Vor dieser CD kann ich Sie nur warnen. Sie hat eine dermaßen aufputschende Wirkung, dass Sie nachts keinen Schlaf finden, aber auch tagsüber zu keiner anderen Beschäftigung in der Lage sind als ständig auf die Wiederholtaste Ihres CD-Spielers zu drücken. Und dieser Effekt wird keineswegs nur von den virtuosen Reißern verursacht, auch die ruhigen Stücke wühlen mit ihrer in überirdischem Wohlklang strömenden Trauer und Verzweiflung zutiefst auf. Bei ihrem letzten Album "Diva Divo" dachte ich, jetzt ist sie auf dem Höhepunkt ihrer stimmlichen Leistungsfähigkeit angelangt, mit "Drama Queens" belehrt uns Joyce DiDonato eines Besseren, setzt noch einen drauf. Es ist schon verblüffend, wie unverschämt souverän die Amerikanerin über allen technischen Herausforderungen steht, mit denen normalsterbliche Sänger(innen) zu kämpfen haben. Während diese noch dabei sind, die Schwierigkeiten zu überwinden, stürzt sich DiDonato schon auf das Innenleben ihrer Charaktere: Ihre "Drama Queens" leiden, lodern und toben in schier atemlos machender Intensität. Eine Vollblutkünstlerin, bei der sich Expressivität und Innigkeit, Virtuosität und Klangschönheit nicht gegenseitig ausschließen, sondern vielmehr für eine süchtig machende Sogwirkung sorgen. [...] Und deshalb zögere ich nicht – obwohl 2012 viele wirklich gute Aufnahmen erschienen sind –, "Drama Queens" zu meiner CD des Jahres zu erklären. Fünf Punkte mit Krönchen”.
Michael Blümke, Rondo, October 2012
“The mezzo-soprano’s versatility is phenomenal. Whether love, fury, sorrow or tenderness, she masters all the shades of the emotional range and dares to take them to the very edge of purely beautiful sound, using whispered or throaty tones, and practically spitting out her consonants.
A singer with such a glorious voice and such secure technique can take the liberty of doing anything they like. There is no question about it, Joyce DiDonato is one of the greatest singers of our time”.
„Die Wandlungsfähigkeit der Mezzosopranistin ist phänomenal. Egal, ob Liebe, Wut, Trauer oder Zärtlichkeit - sie beherrscht alle Schattierungen der Gefühlsskala und wagt sich dabei auch immer wieder an die Grenzen des Schönklangs, zu ganz gehauchten oder kehligen Tönen und zu fast gespuckten Konsonanten. Wer über eine so herrliche Stimme und eine so sichere Technik verfügt, kann sich eben fast alles erlauben. Keine Frage, Joye DiDonato gehört zu den größten Sängerinnen unserer Tage“.
Marcus Staebler, NDR Kultur, October 2012
“Joyce DiDonato is one of those artists I try to catch whenever she appears. [She has a] glorious voice and dramatic flair. [T]he singing on this CD is ... magisterial”.
Barry Bassis, The Epoch Times, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato continues her reign as queen of baroque opera. As usual, her coloratura is flawless — every note is distinguishable at seemingly impossible speeds, and her trills are effortless. In legato singing, her musical line is perfectly smooth and her tone even across her range.
As expressive as she is technically polished, DiDonato plunges into the rage and excitement of the emotionally fraught queens that dominated opera in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Throughout, she finds a wide range of vocal colors — creamy straight tones, full, confident top notes and the occasional breathy whisper or vibrato-laden sob”.
Ronni Reich, NewJersey.com, November 2012
“DiDonato sang as if her life depended on it – and yet always in an authentic Baroque style ... Her ‘Drama-Queens’ suffer, blaze and rage in an intensity that leaves us nearly breathless. A thoroughbred artist whose expressivity and intimacy, virtuosity and sense of sound are not mutually exclusive, but instead have an addicting alluring effect”
„DiDonato singt wie so oft als ginge es um ihr Leben - dabei geht es ihr stets auch um den authentischen Barocksti ... Ihre „Drama Queens“ leiden, lodern und toben in schier atemlos machender Intensität. Eine Vollblutkünstlerin, bei der sich Expressivität und Innigkeit, Virtuosität und Klanglichkeit nicht gegenseitig ausschließen, sondern vielmehr für eine süchtig machende Sogwirkung sorgen“.
Von Werner Theurich, Spiegel Online, October 2012
“This is the very essence of opera. The whole genre is full of tragic, hysterical women and ‘drama queens’; that’s what’s so wonderful about it. And so it was about time to dedicate an album to this theme. Joyce DiDonato, the American mezzo-soprano, fulfils the task with verve.
DiDonato is not just a coloratura virtuoso, but also an actress of great stage experience and detailed characterization; in the last few years, she has risen through the ranks to become one of the world’s leading mezzo-sopranos, especially in Baroque repertoire and in Rossini’s works.
This is one of the most ambitious, and also one of the most beautifully sung, recordings by one the most important mezzo-sopranos of today. And besides, the arias featured, by Orlandini, Giacomelli, Cesti, but also by Haydn and Keiser, are so rarely heard that even from the most critical point of view, this CD is a treasure chest of precious, royal jewels. And Joyce DiDonato is Drama Queen royalty.”
„Das ist die Kunst der Oper selbst. Die ganze Gattung strotzt vor tragischen Hysterikerinnen und ‚drama queens‘. Das ist ja gerade das Schöne. Also war es wohl höchste Zeit, diesem Thema ein eigenes Album zu widmen. Joyce DiDonato, die amerikanische Mezzo-Sopranistin, erfüllt diese Aufgabe mit Verve.
Keine bloß virtuose Koloraturschleuder, sondern eine bühnengeübte und charakterisierungsfreudige Darstellerin, hat DiDonato sich in den letzten Jahren zu einer der führenden Mezzo-Sopranistinnen vor allem des Barock- und des Rossini-Repertoires emporgearbeitet.
Es handelt sich um das bislang ambitionierteste, dabei sehr schön gesungene Album einer der wichtigsten Mezzo-Sopranistinnen der Gegenwart. Die dargebotenen Arien von Orlandini, Giacomelli, Cesti, aber auch von Haydn und Keiser sind außerdem so selten, dass die CD selbst unter kritischen Auspizien ein Schatzkästchen köstlich königlicher Klunker bleibt. Joyce DiDonato, das ist Drama queen-Royality“.
Kai Luehrs-Kaiser, Kulturradio, October 2012
Romeo in Bellini The Capulets and the Montagues
San Francisco Opera / cond. Riccardo Frizza / dir. Vincent Boussard
“As Romeo, Joyce DiDonato (with Susan Graham, one of the two finest lyrical mezzos singing today) created a new world every time she sang. The basic tone of her voice was pure gold. Her control, nuance and range-shifts were impeccable, from her lowest tenor tones to her highest trills—at every instant she was acting with her voice”.
David Littlejohn, Wall Street Journal, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato’s execution of ‘Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio’ was incredibly sincere and moving. The passion and fervour of her Romeo provided an illuminating counterpoint to Juliet’s fragility; the contrasting colours of [DiDonato’s and Cabell’s] voices complemented one another most, during difficult harmonic passages, in their duet ‘Ah! Crudel, d’onor ragioni’, which was followed by an equally splendid ‘Si, fuggire’.”
« L’esecuzione della Joyce Di Donato di “Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio” è stata incredibilmente sincera e commovente. La passione e il fervore del suo Romeo sono stati un illuminante contrappunto alla fragilità di Giulietta, i colori contrastanti delle loro voci si sono rivelati particolarmente complementari nelle difficili armonie del loro duetto, “Ah! Crudel, d’onor ragioni,” seguito da un altrettanto splendido ‘Si, fuggire’. »
Alice Zhang, GBOpera, October 2012
“DiDonato, peerless among today’s bel canto mezzo-sopranos, imbued Romeo with burnished, even tone, full of ardent longing”.
Mike Silverman, San Francisco Chronicle
, October 2012
“To see Joyce DiDonato play Romeo in San Francisco Opera’s mesmerizing current production of the work [...] is to yearn for more of these cross-dressed parts in twentieth and twenty-first century operas.
DiDonato's fierceness and force of will makes the music and text seem like they are perfectly in alignment. [...] The performer oozes virile masculinity. The flexibility and fluidity of [her] voice is such that she can make even the most feminine-sounding run at the very top of her range sound testosterone-laced in this production[, and there’s] a softness at the edges of her voice which makes the character seem entirely vulnerable.
DiDonato [...] is worth the price of admission alone”.
Chloe Veltman, Chloe Veltman Blog, October 2012
“DiDonato sang with tremendous beauty, power and conviction. Hers was in many respects a Golden Age performance, with chilling lows, thrusting highs, and an abundance of coloratura flourishes and extremely intelligent shading.”
Jason Victor Serinus, The Bay Area Reporter, October 2012
“Singing radiantly and joyously, separately and together, Joyce DiDonato as Romeo and and Nicole Cabell as Juliet were outstanding on opening night Saturday. DiDonato is well-known and treasured in these parts; Cabell’s local debut was striking and memorable”.
Janos Gereben, Examiner, October 2012
“DiDonato, a Merola Opera program alum, is a true Golden Age singer with a sizable voice whose wide range extends from grave lows to thrilling highs. She also has an oft-astounding gift for coloratura ornamentation, fierce intelligence, and deep emotional commitment to her music”.
“DiDonato was magnificent. Her final death scene was so riveting that it even silenced the coughs of virtually all of the persistent, fall cold-plagued audience members”.
Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice, September 2012
“[DiDonato has] the vocal agility, range, and breath control to make Bellini’s long lines and florid outbursts sound easy to sing”.
“DiDonato, last heard in San Francisco in 2007 as Strauss’s Octavian, is her generation’s great exponent of pants roles, her masculine swagger and penetrating, slightly reedy voice making her a riveting figure on stage. She’s also one of the great living virtuosos in florid music; there seems to be nothing she can’t sing with utter ease and confidence. Her command and virtuosity made Romeo the most convincing character in the opera”.
Lisa Hirsch, Classical Review, September 2012
“her success as Romeo was remarkable, blending tenderness and ardor in a powerful compound”.
Joshua Cosman, San Francisco Chronicle, September 2012
“Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and soprano Nicole Cabell will astonish you as Romeo and Juliet in ‘The Capulets and the Montagues’ by Vincenzo Bellini. DiDonato and Cabell might as well be singing in your ear, their voices have such beaming power, clarity and beauty. Their love duet, in Act I, exemplified an operatic ideal: streaming garlands of bel canto song, braiding voices in close harmony, moving like soft clouds, or pinwheels, or pirouettes. It was thrilling to hear something this difficult accomplished so easily and beautifully. [DiDonato’s] ‘Deh! Tu bell' anima’ -- that grief-stricken number, in which Romeo begs Juliet's soul to take him to heaven -- was heart-meltingly delivered”.
Richard Scheinin, Mercury News, September 2012
Teatro Colon / Jornal Cruzeiro do Sul
An exquisite and uncompromising recital. Throughout the night, DiDonato showcased the expressive quality of her voice, her charm, her charmisma and her seductive beauty. ... She was able to exhibit her exquisite singing, firm technique and wonderful expressiveness both in the intimate moments of Semele and in the devilish coloratura and ornamentation of Ariodante. She captivated and electrified the audience... given their enthusiasm, she offered four encores.
Gustavo Gabriel Otero, Mundoclasico, August
South America Recital Tour with David Zobel
“The best mezzo in the world.
With her enormous talent and bewitching charm, Joyce DiDonato is passionate about challenges... Her impressive coloratura play places her not only among the best in the world, but at the very top of her voice type. Deservedly, she is known as the best Rossini mezzo... Her ease and naturalness are rare in the operatic scene.”
Cecilia Valdés Urrutia, El Mercurio, August 2012
“One of the leaders of the international vocal scene, star of the New York Metropolitan Opera and major opera houses around the world... [Both recitals] allow us to experience Joyce DiDonato’s virtuosity, the flexibility of her beautiful voice and the charms of her interpretations first-hand. An eminent interpreter of the operas of Mozart, Handel and Rossini, the north American mezzo-soprano has dazzled both critics and the public with her vigour, flawless technique, and, of course, her incomparable voice... Her interpretations of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and of the title role in La Cenerentola have already been named among the greatest operatic interpretations of the past decade.”
Pablo Fiorentini, Cien Radios, August 2012
“The magnificent American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is one of the most outstanding interpreters of the operas of Rossini”
Maureen Lennon Zaninovic, El Mercurio, August 2012
Recording: Donna Elvira in Mozart Don Giovanni
Mahler Chamber Orchestra / cond. Yannick Nézet-Séguin
CD (Deutsche Grammophon 4779878)
“As for Joyce DiDonato, you would have to go a long way to hear such superb breath control in ‘Mi tradì’. As on the Covent Garden DVD (Opus Arte, 7/09), she takes the Mozart-sanctioned downward transposition; the harmonic shift in the recitative is always a jolt”.
Richard Lawrence, Gramophone, December 2012
“DiDonato’s Elvira is completely convincing. She enters in a fury and dashes off her Hamndelian ‘Ah! Fugge il traditor’ with a breathless vehemence that doesn’t subside until her moment of self-realization: ‘Misera, Elvira, che contrasto d’affetti in sen ti nasce’ (‘Miserable Elvira, what contrasting emotions emerge in your breast’). The catalogue is littered with miscast mezzo Elviras ... but DiDonato really sounds like a soprano, occasionally reminiscent of Giulini’s Schwarzkopf in her portrayal of a woman on the brink of hysteria”.
Hugh Canning, International Record Review
, December 2012
“...[’Mi tradì’s’] treacherous arpeggiations have never, in my experience, been sung more accurately; it's as if the melody had been handed to a virtuoso clarinetist. DiDonato's beauty of tone throughout makes one wonder how the Don could so cavalierly abandon this Elvira”.
Fred Cohn, Opera News, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato dispatches [‘Mi tradi’] on a grand scale, her burning anger making her a constant threat to Giovanni’s hegemony”.
George Hall, BBC Music Magazine, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato combined exquisitely refined style with the fragile, wounded, melancholy and inexpressible charm of this Elvira, who will always be a ‘sad, abandoned woman’”.
« Joyce diDonato (qui) allie raffinement exquis du style et ce charme fragile, blessé, mélancolique, indicible d'une Elvira qui restera pour toujours cette "triste femme délaissée ».
Christian Colombeau, Le Podcast Journal, November 2012
"If ever a mezzo-soprano could rival the mixture of attraction, revulsion, and downright hysteria that make soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s many recorded accounts of Donna Elvira iconic, it’s DiDonato. Totally secure on top, she not only launches into arias such as “Ah! chi mi dice mai” with unbridled rage, but also manages to express Elvira’s extremely vulnerable side. Under Nézet-Séguin, DiDonato’s portrayal constantly amazes for her ability to sing so forcefully, yet with such consistent beauty of tone."
Jason Victor Serinus, San Fransisco Classical Voice
, November 2012
“Joyce DiDonato’s Elvira was passionate, wounded (but without loss of dignity), eloquent and warm of timbre. She performed with impressively appropriate style and characterisation ; the sincere prayer of the constantly betrayed lover poured from her very soul (" Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata " from Act II; track 8 of CD 2). The mezzo-soprano gave off an air of aristocratic control … all the better to hide the turmoil gradually building up inside her”.
« Joyce DiDonato, Elvira ardente et blessée (mais digne) est éloquente et d'une chaleur de timbre très convaincante: la justesse du style et du caractère sont très percutants: en elle s'écoule la prière sincère de l'amoureuse constamment trahie (" Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata " au II; plage 8 du cd 2), la mezzo exhale un pur parfum d'aristocratique contrôle ... pour mieux cacher le trouble qui l'assaille peu à peu ».
Luca Irom, Classique News, October 2012
“The singers [...] give nuanced renditions of their lines, sensitive to the ways in which Mozart created an individual musical language for each character.
Joyce DiDonato, a mezzo Donna Elvira, seems to relish the jagged lines of this on-the-edge character, along with the technical challenges of her grand scena, ‘Mi tradi’.
This live concert CD is one of the best recordings ever made of Mozart’s masterpiece – and that’s saying a lot with more than 130 listings currently available”.
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, October 2012
“Could anyone think of a better Donna Anna and Donna Elvira these days than Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato? Their brilliant arias are an absolute delight”.
« Aujourd’hui, peut-on rêver de meilleures interprètes de Donna Anna et Donna Elvira qu’une Diana Damrau et une Joyce DiDonato ? On se régalera donc à leurs brillantes interventions ».
Jacques Schmitt, Res Musica, October 2012
“if there is a greater Elvira on disc than Joyce DiDonato, I’d love to hear her. In this notoriously tough role to cast, DiDonato catches everything: the craziness, the desperation, the sadness (“Ah, taci ingiusto core” is gorgeous). She also catches all the notes, from top to bottom, fast, slow, long and short, all sung with a commitment that is fabulously intense. Her second-soprano sound never has been used to better effect: a perfect performance”.
Robert Levine, Classics Today, October 2012
“Joyce DiDonato, as Elvira, impresses with yet another superb character portrayal.”
Michael Blümke, Rondo Magazin, August 2012
Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Winners
Royal Opera House / cond. Antonio Pappano
[Joseph Calleja] could have stolen the show, but that would have been impossible with Joyce DiDonato about: that golden-girl artist matched him quality for quality. Wrapped in a chiffon gown worthy of Tate Modern, the American mezzo-soprano started with an extract from Rossini’s La donna del lago, ‘Tanti affeti’, a bel canto virtuoso glory that we rarely hear, probably because it’s too difficult.”
Jessica Duchen, Independent, July 2012
“The gold standard…happened only twice in the evening... secondly, when Joyce DiDonato expressed pure bel canto ambrosia over Rossini’s 'Tanti affetti'.”
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, July 2012
Recital with David Zobel
“Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is simply one of a kind, with an enormous vocal range and flexibility allowing her to master any coloratura as if it were child’s play. Add to this her natural and congenial personality and outstanding stage presence, and you know why she leaves her audiences in raptures with comic as well as dramatic repertoire...”
Thomas Molke, Online Musik Magazin, July 2012
Recital with David Zobel
“the American mezzo-soprano ... dazzled Wigmore Hall audiences with Cenerentola’sfinal rondo as her encore”.
Hugh Canning, Opera, October 2012
“Silvery soprano register, clear and sparkly as Venetian glass, brought finely nuanced phrasing to images of murmuring streams... DiDonato clearly relished tasting and scenting out their verbal and musical language... brilliance of her coloratura mezzo...”
Hilary Finch, Times
, July 2012
“Joyce DiDonato is not just a singer, she's a cheerleader carrying the torch for opera... she can do spitting fury in Handel, comedy in Donizetti, and when singing an aria designed for a castrato she can divest herself of all trace of femininity: the only constant is her perfect, golden tone. No wonder the Wigmore is having to put on a repeat of this recital, to cope with the demand... effortless coloratura ... her ability to bring a lovely note seemingly out of nowhere... beautifully-nuanced Vivaldi... concentrated and flawless blast of killer-coloratura... the audience had become this drama-queen’s slaves-for-life. Result!”
Michael Church, Independent, July 2012
“There are few musicians into whose hands you’d more willingly entrust an evening’s enjoyment... There are a few performers whose voice – not celebrity, nor hype, nor their particular repertoire choice, but just their basic instrument – is enough to demand space in the diary. DiDonato’s is one – absolutely even from the characterful lower register through to the glowing top (thrillingly on show in Donato’s three encores)... Joyce DiDonato is worth cancelling plans for. And if she promises to take you to Venice – well, it might just prove the most romantic trip of your life.”
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, July 2012
“Sublime voice, technically perfect from the top of its range to the bottom, and from the quietest whisper to the most resonant fortissimo... DiDonato really flourishes, adopting various poses to depict moments of panic and joy; the audience giggled as she flirted comically to portray Anzoleta's self-centred, pathetic and irritatingly smug character... magical voice, at once calming and entrancing... Rapturous applause after the closing number brought Joyce DiDonato and David Zobel back onto the stage several times, before some much-appreciated encores (thank goodness, another chance to hear her voice!)... superlative performance by one of the most exceptional mezzo-soprano voices of our time.”
Julia Savage, Bach Track, July 2012
Rosina in Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia
Opéra National de Paris / con. Bruno Campanella / dir. Coline Serreau
DVD (Arthaus Musik)
“The joy of this set is Joyce DiDonato...”
Michael Tanner, BBC Music Magazine, August 2012
Sister Helen Prejean in Heggie Dead Man Walking
Houston Grand Opera / cond. Patrick Summers
DVD (Virgin Classics)
“Joyce DiDonato is on excellent form as Sister Helen, singing rapturously but also engendering tension, as when Helen is challenged by her superior, Sister Rose...”
George Loomis, Opera , November 2012
“[Sister Helen’s] quest toward the understanding of the nature of divine forgiveness is like that of a great singer working to achieve musical transcendence. DiDonato succeeds here not just because she is a wonderful singer but because of the kind of singer she is —one driven to create meaning through sound. The intense focus of DiDonato's art becomes a correlative for Sister Helen's religious calling”.
Fred Cohn, Opera News
, November 2012
“Mezzo Joyce Di Donato leaves an indelible stamp on the role. Di Donato is, as her fans know, a superb singer and one of opera's leading lights. Here she proves herself to be an actress of equal power and presence.”
Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Music, July 2012
Recital with David Zobel
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
“Bel canto star, world-renowned interpreter of the romantic Italian repertoire, undisputed queen of coloratura and superb actress and comedian... Her impeccable technique allows her to adapt dynamics, projection and tone colour to any environment... In the encores, Joyce DiDonato stopped the show with a dazzling display of beaming notes, splendid fireworks of coloratura and sheer radiance.”
Gérard Mannoni, Altamusica, June 2012
“Very elegant in a glamorous red dress, the American mezzo-soprano started her recital with two arias from Verdi’s opera Ercole sul Termodonte with irresistible nobility, luminous timbre and beautiful ornamentation... She sang Rossini’s La Regata veneziana with boldness and truculence to the great joy of the audience, who doesn’t conceal its enthusiasm and rapture.”
Christian Peter, Forum Opéra, June 2012
Recital with David Zobel
“Joyce DiDonato is a thoroughbred singer and entertainer... She sings the coloratura arias with such fire and bravura that even the fireworks at the end of the evening cannot compete.”
Wilhelm Sinkovocz, Die Presse, June 2012
“Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato enthralled the audience at the Schwetzinger Festival... from the beginning, her voice sounded velvety, silken and very seductive, and she demonstrated her formidable versatility in the arias by Vivaldi, in which she alternated skilfully between lyrical passages and full-voiced, intensive ones. Here, she could also show off her wonderful agility which allows her to sing the most challenging coloratura like a folk song... Her voice seemed particularly well suited to Michael Head’s Three Songs of Venice, in which the audience could admire DiDonato’s smooth vocal lines and her perfectly balanced registers... She sang simply beautifully.”
Michael Schmitt, June 2012
“DiDonato mastered the Baroque and Romantic as well as neo-Romantic and neo-Impressionistic repertoire, but enraptured her audience mostly with her encore (‘Nacqui all’affanno’, from La Cenerentola). Her beautiful, unaffected voice and wonderful timbre sound at their best when she performs 18th-century repertoire. In those songs, her voice flowed over with genuine feeling, expression and empathy. This, together with her friendly and spirited personality while explaining the evening’s programme in between songs, was an absolute sensation.”
E. Britsch and S.M. Dettlinget, Mannheimer Morgen, June 2012
“Joyce DiDonato was outstanding, she is now probably the best coloratura soprano.”
Thomas Rothkegel, Schwäbisches Tagblatt, June 2012
Cendrillon in Massenet Cendrillon
Royal Opera House / cond. Bertrand de Billy / dir. Laurent Pelly
DVD (Virgin Classics)
“Joyce DiDonato’s [Cendrillon was] skilfully-shaped, often touchingly impetuous”.
George Hall, Opera , November 2012
“The sweetness of DiDonato's voice defines the character — this Cinderella couldinspire love in any prince — and her ability to produce warm, plangent tone throughout her range, including some wondrous floated high notes (in the score, Cendrillon is listed as a soprano), allows her to realize the full lyric potential of Massenet's honeyed melodies”.
Fred Cohn, Opera News,
“Joyce DiDonato is the principal argument to purchase this DVD. Due to her extensive experience with Rossini’s Cenerentola she is very well aware of the role and conveys wonderful freshness in it...”
Laurent Bury, Forum Opera, June 2012
“A performance teeming with star quality… DiDonato excels at expressing sincerity, with rapt silvery pianissimi aplenty.”
Mark Pullinger, International Record Review, August 2012
“Happily, the cast is a strong one. Joyce DiDonato brings star quality to the title-role, touching the heart...”
Richard Fairman, Gramophone, September 2012
“The title role, normally given to a soprano, is here sung by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, whose rich timbre and supreme musicality ... give great credibility to her performance.”
Robert Pénavayre, Classic Toulouse, June 2012
“The heart is undeniably there in the two gorgeous duets for Cendrillon and her Prince Charming. Joyce DiDonato is winning in Cinderella’s smiles and tears...”
David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, August 2012
“DiDonato’s ventures outside the Handel-bel canto repertoire have proved both wise and brilliant, and Lucette (Cinderella) takes her into lyric soprano territory she made it clear was hers for the taking… Predictably, she’s radiant, but more than that she brings depth (but not baggage) to [this part]… an uncontested favorite on the world’s top opera stages… It’s the core humility and genuineness of feeling of her Cendrillon - by all accounts true reflections of this down-to-earth ensemble singer with a funny bone that makes her a natural for comedy - that makes her audience cheer her on.”
Tim Pfaff, EDGE Magazine, July 2012
Isolier in Rossini Le Comte Ory / Metropolitan Opera
cond. Maurizio Benini / dir. Bartlett Sher
DVD (Virgin Classics)
“The cast is certainly distinguished... the irrepressible Joyce DiDonato gives a properly testosterone-fuelled performance of Ory’s promiscuous young page Isolier.”
Richard Osborne, Gramophone, July 2012
“What a cast the Met has put together! ... The amazing mezzo Joyce DiDonato sings Isolier (who is enamoured of the Countess and vice versa); there seems to be nothing her voice cannot do and she moves as if she owns the stage.”
Robert Levine, International Record Review, June 2012
“There is no need any more to point out Joyce DiDonato’s bravura. The final trio of all main characters is both highlight and excellent finish of this wonderful performance.”
Michael Blümke, Rondo Magazin, June 2012
Angelina in Rossini La Cenerentola / Bayerische Staatsoper
cond. Antonello Allemandi / dir. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
“But the manner in which Joyce DiDonato portrays Cinderella’s kindness, innocence and morality, her strength of character regardless of the contempt and spite she has to bear, this manner shows superior understanding of the human soul – apart from formidable singing and acting, of course.”
Michael Stallknecht, Süddeutsche Zeitung, July 2012
“Joyce DiDonato gave a mesmerising performance as Cenerentola ... Everything that the mezzo-soprano brought to the role was simply exceptional.”
Christophe Rizoud, Forum Opéra, July 2012
“Taking the lead was the celebrated Joyce DiDonato, whose vocal fireworks brought the house down, and whose infectious charm won the audience's hearts... DiDonato's incredible performance in the final scene...”
Matthew Lynch, Bach Track, June 2012
“I had several reasons for travelling to Munich and enjoying this Rossini production. The most important one was Joyce DiDonato’s return to the role of Angelina ... Joyce DiDonato gave another convincing performance in this role – one of her favourite ones – and dominated the evening from beginning to end. It is a great pleasure to listen to her command of coloratura and vocal lines... At the end there was thundering applause especially for Joyce DiDonato...”
Paper Blog, June 2012
Maria Stuarda in Donizetti Maria Stuarda / Houston Grand Opera
cond. Patrick Summers
“There is no one like her on the opera stage today. She is a star, a superstar, in fact... a radiant and attractive stage presence whose heat can be felt by an audience; an effortless light that illuminates her character; and, the prima quality for any singer, a flawless technique and lush vocal tone that flies through whatever roulades, filigree and stratospheric heights the composer asks. She is a phenomenon… young and on the ascendant cusp of her career, she is the future of opera… Hail to the queen. Hail, DiDonato! Long may you reign!"
D.L Groover, Houston Press, April 2012
“DiDonato’s singing of the role’s florid passages is first rate… with seamless legato and gorgeous tone.”
George Loomis, Financial Times, April 2012
“There seems to be no mood, vocal color or pitch that DiDonato cannot produce. Mary Stuart is a noble queen done wrong in this opera, and the tender, smooth beauty of DiDonato’s singing confirmed her goodness and vulnerability, especially in remarkably glowing softer passages. All the more captivating, then, was Mary’s transformation during her smack-down of Elizabeth in Act I, scene 2: DiDonato delivered this tirade of scorching insults with spitting fury and iron-hard timbre, inspiring noises of unrestrained satisfaction from the audience.”
Gregory Barnett, Opera News, July 2012
“She filled the auditorium with expressive sound, ever controlled but blatantly emotional, and her high notes rivalled those of a soprano. Her reputation as the premier mezzo-soprano of her generation is well-deserved, as the Houston Grand Opera audience was quick to recognize and applaud.”
Dr Melvyn H Schreiber, Galeston Daily News, May 2012
“With not only voice but also personality to burn, DiDonato's gorgeously sung, passionately acted Mary is the jewel in the crown of the show… From her first aria expressing her joy at being allowed to walk in the open air, DiDonato brings Mary to vibrant life - exuding nobility and grace under pressure, yet also warmly human. With her legato phrasing, the power and clarity of her vocal production, there's no part of her range in which she does not sing with distinction. She dispatches the more complicated ornamental passages with fluidity and bravura ease, with a velvety warmth in her high notes, and remarkable throaty fervor in her lower register. The entire closing scene is her tour de force.
Everett Evans, Chron.com, April 2012
“…quite miraculous… stunning in the part, making something very great out of each and every phrase. The first thing to glow over in this Maria Stuarda is her brilliant range. She really gives attention to the lower notes, which are golden and resonant, almost jewel-like. The phrasing is smooth and well-connected.“Perhaps the thing that stunned me the most was her quiet intensity in certain arias sung pianissimo, yet ringing clear as a bell in the large theatre... In the final scene depicting her ascent to the scaffold, it’s hard not to be moved deeply when she sings… This is, after all, a tragic opera, and DiDonato demonstrated why with brilliant conviction.”
Theodore Bale, Culture Map Houston, April 2012
“DiDonato sang with commanding power, silken elegance of line and deep expressiveness. She captured Mary's fierce pride and desperation as well as her religious piety and courage in the face of death… In the florid passages, her embellishments were exquisite ' and all the more effective for seeming to flow spontaneously from her character's state of mind."
Mike Silverman, San Francisco Chronicle, April 2012
Kansas City SO / Helzberg Hall
“When Joyce DiDonato comes to town it’s not just an event worth attending. It’s a cause for celebration…DiDonato presented the music that was sublime and profound… (she) exhibited great tonal beauty, astonishing lyricism and expression. Her lower register was solid and resonant, while the upper range was vibrant and rich. The ornamental passages with their rapid runs were especially striking."
Timothy L McDonald, Kansas City, March 2012
“The many demands she asked of her instrument in the course of performance were met with ease….Her quiet singing of the tender four-lined poem was vulnerable and indescribably human, an effect that resulted in a hushed reverence throughout the house at the song’s conclusion. After an already emotional concert… the final selection brought the audience to its knees.”
Tom Marks, KC Metropolis, March 2012
Avery Fisher Hall / New York Philharmonic Tour
“This highly romantic work is performed fairly often, but rarely as effectively as in this performance by Joyce DiDonato… her phrasing was exquisite and her voice retained both richness of tone and projection throughout her range, from a whisper to full-voiced intensity. In the breezy ‘L'île inconnue', DiDonato had us ready to sail away with her to anywhere at all!"
David M. Rice, Classical Source, February 2012
Barbican / New York Philharmonic Tour
“DiDonato delivered an artlessly optimistic ‘Villanelle’, a vaporous 'Le spectre de la rose’ and a lilting ‘L'île inconnue’ before bobbing off in the breeze to a land of undying love. Not that she had far to bob: the very walls of the Barbican hall, not to mention its inhabitants, were poised to embrace this adored diva whose modesty is an eternal miracle in itself.”
Fiona Maddocks, Guardian, February 2012
“Best of all, though, was Joyce DiDonato’s performance of Berlioz’s song-cycle Les nuits d’été. She was especially fine in the tragic songs, which she captured with superb dignified gravity, and the orchestra responded in kind.”
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph, February 2012
Recording: Diva/Divo (Virgin/EMI)
“The varying roles place considerable demands on the singer’s capacity to create character and gender by vocal means alone. It is a tribute to her vocal dexterity and musical intelligence that she succeeds in repertoire ranging from classical Mozart to high romantic Berlioz.”
Colman Morrissey, The Irish Times, January 2012
Sycorax in Handel The Enchanted Island / Metropolitan Opera
“Musically, the best moments came from Ms. DiDonato, a tragic heroine adrift in a sea of comedy.”
Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal, January 2012
“Joyce DiDonato brings venomous humor and her fabled technique to Sycorax.”
Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 2012
“The mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was Sycorax. She commanded the stage from her first showcase scene, when she plotted her revenge on Prospero in Maybe soon, maybe now (music from Handel’s Teseo), singing with cool control, then bursting into fearless flights of passagework.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, January 2012
“Joyce DiDonato cackled, curled and soared with virtuosic flair in the bitchy-witchy spasms of Sycorax.”
Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, January 2012
“Artful and smooth.”
Zachary Woolfe, New York Observer, January 2012
“The best moments came from Ms. DiDonato, a tragic heroine adrift in a sea of comedy.”
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, January 2012
Flicka Gala / Herbst Theatre / acc. Jake Heggie
"On such a star-studded night, the biggest dazzler was DiDonato, who brought liquid amber tone and cut-diamond precision to several pieces, including Rossini's "Nacqui all'affanno... Non piu mesta," from La Cenerentola."
Richard Scheinin, LexisNexis News, December 2011
Elena in Rossini La Donna del Lago / La Scala
cond. Roberto Abbado
“Joyce DiDonato gave the leading role of Elena, suffering under the male dominance so typical of her era, a wonderful injection of emancipatory dynamism. In her erotically-charged duets with Flórez, we had the rare experience of hearing two noble and technically perfect voices intertwining. There were indeed moments when DiDonato's warm cowgirl soprano was reminiscent of the love-lorn tones of Callas. She was simply marvellous!”
Dirk Schümer, Franffurter Allgemeine, November 2011
"Joyce DiDonato shows skill in every sentence, phrase and colour, reminding us that bel canto means to be expressively virtuosic. This is also shown in the memorable vocal fireworks of the final rondo, which shows off this great American singer’s mind-boggling trills and agility."
Giornale dei Lavoratori, November 2011
Donna Elvira in Mozart Don Giovanni
Festspielhaus Baden-Baden / Mahler Chamber Orchestra
“Joyce DiDonato’s big aria in the second Act ('Mi tradi-quell' alma ingrata') was the emotional core of the music. Her deeply touching and expressive rendering made it one of the highlights of the evening.”
Christopher Root, Online Musik Magazin, August 2011
Title Role in Massenet Cendrillon / Royal Opera House
cond. Bertrand de Billy / dir. Laurent Pelly
“At the heart of the evening was Joyce DiDonato as Lucette, the titular Cendrillon. Few singers walk the stage with less of a barrier between them and the audience – DiDonato is a natural communicator, and she caught the simple charm of the girl to perfection. Likewise her voice was fresh, and though the role often lies at the top of her natural range she made the vocal line sound beautiful and unforced. Her duets with the richer-toned and coltish Prince Charmant of Alice Coote in fact edged into the somewhat more erotic sound-world of Esclarmonde, but a little spice amidst the sweetness was not amiss.”
Francis Muzzu, Opera Now, November 2011
“…this deservedly popular Kansas-born "Yankeediva" exudes intelligence and artistry in every nuance… Cendrillon is gentle, serious and love-struck, with some deliciously high, floating lines which had DiDonato at her pianissimo best.”
Fiona Maddocks, Observer, July 2011
“Massenet's heroine is warm, forgiving, resourceful. Di Donato captures these qualities perfectly…”
Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, July 2011
“[Joyce Didonato’s] voice is as ever gloriously refulgent.”
Clare Colvin, Express, July 2011
“Cendrillon… is sung by mezzo of the moment, Joyce DiDonato, who also starred in the production’s Santa Fe outing. And star quality just about describes her performance here... She produced exquisite pianissimos all evening, the rapt audience utterly entranced, while able to pull out the stops in Act III as the aftermath of the ball hits her.”
Opera Britannia, July 2011
“Without doubt, DiDonato is a consummate artist with sensitive musicality and a strong stage presence.”
Musical Criticism, July 2011
“Joyce DiDonato is an appealing and sympathetic Lucette, perfectly adjusting her vocal palette to match the very varied musical moods of Massenet’s music. She catches the doleful and anxious sides of the girl as well as her moments of happiness and elation... A treasurable performance.”
Classical Source, July 2011
“Joyce DiDonato sings Cinderella… with a winning combination of resolve and vulnerability.”
Erica Jeal, Guardian, July 2011
"Nobody will be disappointed in Joyce DiDonato, singing the title-role with all the gleaming tone, pellucid projection and smiling warmth for which she is justly celebrated."
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, July 2011
Recording: Handel Ariodante / Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis (Virgin Classics CD)
“[Curtis’] secret weapon is mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, tackling the title role with a combination of tenderness and technical bravura.”
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2011
Rossini Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Il Turco in Italia, Moise et Pharaon (Arthaus Musik DVD)
“In her showpiece role as Rosina, Joyce DiDonato proved herself to be a gifted singing actress. Her fight for freedom from the repression of the burka became a charm offensive in her hands. Vocally, the American mezzo delighted the audience with gleaming top notes, daredevil ornamentation and tasteful interpretation.”
Klassik.com, June 2011
Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos
Metropolitan Opera / dir. Elijah Moshinsky / cond. Fabio Luisi
“Mezzo Joyce DiDonato was the Composer whose work is being cut down to size. In this “trouser” role she appropriately spent much of her time marching around in a fit, callow, aggrieved, self-righteous and enamored by the creations of “his” pen. The fact that the Composer is frequently in a state of high emotional stress did not produce vocal agitation on DiDonato’s part. She had the melancholic low notes to extol the impossibly noble character of Ariadne as “he” imagines her, as well as the high notes to project the Composer’s exaltation at the aesthetic quest.”
Joel Lobenthal, CityArts, June 2011
Handel Ariodante / Théâtre des Champs Élysées
Il Complesso Barocco / cond. Alan Curtis
“The Théâtre des Champs-Elysées was full to the brim, and it seemed that a large proportion of the audience had come to hear Joyce DiDonato sing the role of Ariodante. They would not be disappointed. The performance of the American mezzo-soprano, who sings so naturally and joyfully, was inspired. Her voice, crowned with a splendid top register, has never sounded so rich and well projected. Her interpretation had matured, her virtuosity was impressive and her energy; staggering. When Joyce DiDonato sang, there wasn’t a single cough throughout the whole auditorium; the audience held its breath. Her performance was sensational: it was a truly beautiful and all too rare moment of real opera.”
Forum Opera, May 2011
Handel Ariodante / Il Complesso Barocco / Barbican
cond. Alan Curtis
“By casting Joyce DiDonato in the title role, the performance was dealt an ace in its starting hand, giving it an odds-on probability of success. The quality of DiDonato’s voice means that she can spin the longest of lyrical lines and play with tone colours without ever losing her beautifully luminous sheen. The fast music had the agility one would expect of a singer equally adept at Rossini.”
Financial Times, four stars, May 2011
“In the title role – a medieval knight whose world falls apart when he believes his fiancee faithless – Joyce DiDonato was accomplished in her every gesture, physical or vocal, and turned the famous showpiece Dopo Notte into something as elegant as it was triumphant.”
Guardian, four stars, 2011
“The sticking point for Handel agnostics are those epic arias. Da capo, they are called, meaning ‘from the beginning’, and it’s precisely the sense that everything is starting over again, the aria is never going to end, and you are certainly going to miss the 9.47 from London Bridge — and possibly the one after, too — that tends to put you off.”
“This is why Joyce DiDonato deserved her top billing at the Barbican’s concert performance of Handel’s 1735 opera. Of course, it helps that the title character has two of the best arias in Handel’s output: Scherza infida, where Ariodante rages bitterly at his apparently faithless beloved, and Dopo notte, where he rejoices in their improbable reunion.”
“But DiDonato really thought her way into these showpieces, building up an enthralling portrait of a man, or perhaps teen, trapped by his own naive braggadocio. “I knew this would happen, I knew I was too special for her,” DiDonato seemed to be saying in the first aria, unbearably plausible. And rather than just uncorking the sunshine in the final monologue, this 'Dopo Notte' really journeyed from embarrassed self-doubt (“do I really deserve this?”) to ecstatic abandon. And all this wrapped up in a mezzo spun as finely and warmly as a yard of golden silk.”
Times, four stars, May 2011
"It is impossible to imagine these roles more elegantly and gorgeously sung than they were here: Joyce DiDonato (Ariodante) stopped the clocks with a heart-rending ‘Scherza infida’ and then had us all reeling with the virtuosity of her ‘Dopo notte’."
Daily Telegraph, May 2011
Reviewer rating: 4 STARS / Reader rating: 5 STARS
"DiDonato wonderfully essayed the trajectory of human experience expressed in the role, from serene confidence through heartbreak and the contemplation of the dark side of human nature to regained bliss. She projected that range, too, in both her voice and her body language. In the elegiac, suicidal 'Scherza Infida', sung as Ariodante reflects on the apparent infidelity of her betrothed, Ginevra, she spun Handel's desolate, wayward line to extraordinarily poignant effect, with an imaginative chromatic flourish in the ornamentation of the final cadence (inspiring the bassoon obligato player to decorate his own plangent line to similar effect). In her final triumphal aria, 'Dopo notte', she displayed virtuoso technique and compelling artistry, holding her head high for the exuberantly ornamental cadenza."
"For all that it was a concert performance, DiDonato, and indeed all her colleagues, brought the drama to life with facial expressions and gestures."
"Great Ariodantes of the past and present include Janet Baker, Anne Sofie von Otter and Sarah Connolly. DiDonato joins their ranks."
London Evening Standard, May 2011
"[...] as so often with Handel, the packed ship and its glistening booty inevitably tilted to one passenger and one casket of gems: to Joyce DiDonato and 'Scherza infida'."
"A small essay could be written on what DiDonato did with these inspired bars of music ['Scherza infida']. Suffice to say, her face, body and voice became an extraordinary emotional Rubik's Cube scrambling for a solution. Anger led to grief, led to self-pity, led to despair, led to violence, led to relief. Many of the shifts in sentiment came through a simple reconfiguring of the weightings of words. Some came from textural manipulation. In the B section, DiDonato thinned the vocal line out to a spectral trace then returned it, stealthily, to 'Scherza infida' with a soft and menacing pungency. It was one of the most carefully detailed, artistically assured and musically thrilling pieces of singing and acting I've seen and heard in a long while."
"Only DiDonato added to her earlier Oscar-winning contributions with some crystal clear and thunderous coloratura."
The Arts Desk, May 2011
Isolier in Rossini Le Comte Ory
Metropolitan Opera / cond. Maurizio Benini / dir. Bartlett Sher
“You can bet that after hearing the dazzling mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sing two minutes ofmusic for Isolier, Ory’s wily page, Rossini would have jumped up and said: “Wow! But Isolier has noaria. I’ve got to fix that right away.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, April 2011
“Perhaps best of all, American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sang Isolier with luxuriant tone anddazzling agility — and made one wish the role were bigger.”
Mike Silverman, Associated Press, March 2011
“The most astonishing scene comes toward the end of Act II. Adèle has bonded with Isolier, Ory’spage, triumphantly performed by Ms. DiDonato, who sang with plush sound and impeccablepassagework; sent top notes soaring; and conveyed all the swagger of a smitten page.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, March 2011
Recording: Diva/Divo (Virgin/EMI)
“DiDonato's third Virgin/EMI solo album - Diva, Divo - was released on January 25. This playfully conceived recital sees the American singer take full advantage of the vocal and gender range of the mezzo repertoire, voicing not only the eager young men of her many "trouser" roles but also passionate heroines. With the dramatic flair and vocal acuity of an operatic natural, she sings an array of roles on the recording, including Massenet's Chérubin and Ariane, Mozart's Susanna, Berlioz's Marguerite, Bellini's Romeo, and Strauss's Composer.”
“one of the most virtuosic, charismatic, and theatrically versatile artists on the international scene - in opera, in recital, and on record.”
Broadway World, March 2011
“DiDonato imbues trouser-role prototypes like Mozart’s Cherubino and Gounod’s Siébel with tremulous excitement and charm.”
“Rossini remains her strong point. She embodies the feisty spirit that makes his heroines so endearing — and maintains jaw-dropping speed, a gratifyingly reliable trill and firm command of her range from its warm, sensual low notes to sweetly blooming upper reaches.”
Ronni Reich, NJTimes, February 2011
“It almost seems as if mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato can sing anything.”
“DiDonato's single most amazing virtue is her striking ability to disappear into each of her characters and faithfully reproduce the style and individual 'flavor' of each composer.”
David Laviska, Musical Criticism, February 2011
“Joyce DiDonato has already been described as a master in her field and this hardly seems excessive.” (Translated from German)
Bayerischer Rundfunk Online, February 2011
Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie Dead Man Walking
Houston Grand Opera / cond. Patrick Summers / dir. Leonard Foglia
“On Feb. 2 her extraordinary mix of vibrancy, gravity and exacting nuance amounted to a portrayal that easily ranked with her finest work.”
Steve Smith, New York Times, February 2011
US Recital Tour with David Zobel
“She’s the hostess every American woman wants to be,” my friend said admiringly as the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato charmed the audience at Carnegie Hall on Sunday afternoon with a stream of engaging commentary. Indeed, Ms. DiDonato seemed the perfect 21st-century diva — an effortless combination of glamour, charisma, intelligence, grace and remarkable talent.
At 42, she is in her prime and sounded it on Sunday, gliding bejeweled onto the stage in a black gown with bustle and plunging straight into “Berenice, che fai,” Haydn’s turbulent concert aria. Ms. DiDonato shaded every word with meaning, conveying the bereaved Berenice’s anguish with a warm, silvery voice that slid between mezza-voce despair and full-throttle grief, her penetrating high notes and earthy lows equally alluring."
Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, March 2011
"Joyce DiDonato has few if any peers as a song recitalist.”
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, February 2011
“Whether she was singing a dramatic monologue, such as Haydn's challenging, which opened the program, or a song by Cecile Chaminade, fleeting and iridescent as a soap bubble, DiDonato would find a phrase and sing so solidly to the heart of the music, luxuriating in each note, that the sound opened and breathed and blossomed. Rather than being propelled forward, everyone hovered in the moment, together, not wanting it to end."
"But the humanity is precisely what made the singing so luminous in the vast majority of the offerings. Rather than a china doll, or an image of perfection, DiDonato is always present as a real person who cares about what she's doing. She backs this up with a gorgeous vocal technique and ease of delivery.”
“recitals are a vehicle for the thing DiDonato is best at: communication”
Anne Midgette, Washington Post, February 2011
Idamante in Mozart Idomeneo
Edinburgh International Festival, August 2010
“Joyce DiDonato Shines as Idamante”
“Idamante arrives, in the form of Joyce DiDonato. After some conversation, she sings 'Non ho colpa' - her crescendos and diminuendos are perfectly controlled and so expressive…DiDonato's vibrato is perfectly judged.”
Opera Critic, August 2010
Elena in Rossini La Donna del Lago
Opera National de Paris, June 2010
“Joyce DiDonato manages to keep a straight face throughout as grand chandeliers descend at key moments and a harp rises from the floor to signal the Bards' chorus. Her Elena is simply the best singing I've heard in years, the final rondo a model of vocal security and varied colour.”
Financial Times, June 2010
“Heading the cast triumphantly is Joyce DiDonato as Elena. Like the other singers, she makes short work of Rossini's formidable roulades, singing with a mezzo-soprano that is a glory to behold. The famous aria-finale "Tanto affetti in tal momento" is stunning, but no less arresting than the vocal pyrotechnics is her heartfelt singing of the aria's initial lyrical section, in which she thankfully reacts to the turn of events that unite her with Malcolm and expresses special gratitude to the agnanimous king."
New York Times, June 2010
Rosina in Rossini Il Barbiere di Siviglia / Los Angeles Opera
“Still, it was Joyce DiDonato, in her company debut, who dominated. The American mezzo-soprano has, in the past few years, won over the Rossini crowd in most of the world's opera capitals, and on Sunday she stole a show that was hard to steal. Hers is a full, rich, hall-filling sound, yet her roulades rolled off her tongue with unbelievable ease. She is a natural actress as well, and she even handled Sagi's cutesy leg-kicking business with flair, while retaining her dignity.”
Los Angeles Times, November 2009
“But the musical highlight of the show is mezzo Joyce DiDonato, who has been attacking the part of Rosina with happy gusto in opera houses around the globe (so energetically, in fact, that she fractured a fibula onstage at Covent Garden this summer). DiDonato has a big but exceptionally agile voice, confident and clean throughout the range. Her opening "Una voce poco fa" was brilliant, committed and rapturously received.”
LA Downtown News, December 2009
“DiDonato, as Rosina, is no less dazzling (she first appears, appropriately enough, on a pedestal), lightning fast and pearly of tone, her phrases unwinding in waterfalls of cream.”
Orange County Register, December 2009
“Making her Los Angeles Opera debut, golden-toned mezzo Joyce – "I was born in Kansas just like Dorothy" – DiDonato matched Flórez note for note, and made Rosina, who can be too much of a virginal babe, into something delectable, made of flesh and blood. In less than a decade, she has become one of the most sought after singers by the leading opera houses in roles ranging from A (Alcina) to Z (Zlatohrbitek, in Janacek's 'Cunning Little Vixen'). In addition to her astonishing singing, she has a command of languages that even has the French press singing her praises for her idiomatic French.”
Seen and Heard International, December 2009
Rosina in Rossini Il Barbiere di Siviglia
“In an interview with me some years ago, Marilyn Horne had a complaint. The typical opera review, she said, went on and on about the production - about what the stage director had done, what the set designer had done and so on. Only at the bottom was there a smidgeon of comment about singing. That is a complaint that I have long shared. In honor of Horne, and this complaint, let me go on for a while about singing...
DiDonato is back, lighting up the Met stage. That is what she did in 2005, when she appeared as Stéphano in Goundod's Romeo and Juliet. That is a nothing role, frankly, with a nothing aria. But DiDonato, this sparkler from Kansas, practically stole the show with it. Since then, she has been stunning in recital...and stunning in just about everything else, too. Last January, she ended Marilyn Horne's 75th-birthday gala in Carnegie Hall with Rossini's aria "Tanti affetti," from La donna del lago. Even Horne - no slouch herself in that aria - had to be wowed.
DiDonato was in top form as Rosina on a recent Saturday night. She has just about every gift an opera singer can have, musically, vocally and theatrically. The voice can be sultry and smoky, particularly in its lower register; and it can be pure as the driven snow - everything depends on the musical needs of the moment. DiDonato is perpetually alive, even in relatively trivial bits of recitative: nothing is routine, humdrum or phoned in. And her technique is quite simply the envy of the vocal world.
Let me offer just one detail from that Saturday night: in the "Freddo ed immobile" section, Rosina, along with other singers, must sing detached notes - very hard to keep on pitch. Not for DiDonato. And I will not forbear commenting on Rosina's big aria, "Una voce poco fa." DiDonato is always coming up with new interpolations for it, new wowings: and they are fitting, exciting - wow-ing, indeed. Finally, DiDonato has what I have long called her special ingredient: adorability, which, along with some other key ingredients, cannot be learned, but seems to come from within, or above.”
City Arts, October 2009
“You could hardly wish for a better cast than the one assembled here... Joyce DiDonato, who broke a leg while playing Rosina at the Royal Opera in London in July, never missed a step here. Added to her lovely voice and precise coloratura were her superb dramatic skills: she spoke volumes with a sly smile or an arched eyebrow. If the Met currently has a sure-fire hit, this delicious lark is it."
New York Times, October 2009
“Best in show was Joyce DiDonato as the rebellious ingenue Rosina. Not only did she nail every musical curlicue, she added intriguing variations of her own, modulating her sleek mezzo-soprano with subtle shifts of color and tempo. Just three months after fracturing her leg doing this opera in London, she scampered around the stage with the madcap verve of a young Bette Midler."
New York Post, October 2009