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Joyce DiDonato Charms Paris

Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-sopranoAmerican mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is already high in my estimation, but her name is not yet as well known as it should be. Recently, she gave a recital in Paris with Julius Drake, more or less the same program that they presented here under the auspices of Vocal Arts Society in February. Regrettably, I was unable to attend, but Renaud Machart reviewed the Paris version (Le beau récital parisien de Joyce DiDonato, April 7) for Le Monde (my translation):

Even if she has enjoyed good success on the stages of the Opéra de Paris and the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Joyce DiDonato does not have yet, in France, the reputation of some other mezzo-sopranos. For this recital of French, Italian, and Spanish cantatas and mélodies, at the Salle Gaveau, the audience was thin indeed. But it was excellent: from the end of the first mélodie sung by the young American, Bizet's Ouvre ton coeur, help opened its heart to her and never closed it again. It was there for her, for the music, for that refined art that is the art song recital, which became a sort of secret counter-culture in the general noise of the surrounding non-culture. This audience became then like a warm-hearted, justly enthusiastic brotherhood.

The singer's smile, strictly professional, as she took the stage before a deserted hall soon became more natural. She sang the cantata Giovanna d'Arco as a perfect Rossinian: with a long voice, elastic, strong, light, perfectly projected down to the smallest detail of the virtuosic coloratura. In the program the colors of her vocal timbre were described as "silky and ambered." One could not choose better words. [...]

At the piano, Julius Drake was so subtle that he was sometimes able to accompany Falla as if it were Hugo Wolf. But what ambered, enveloping colors could he also make shine forth, with his piano open wide like a window on a stunning, painted landscape.
It certainly sounds like DiDonato and Drake hit this one out of the park. In related news, Joyce DiDonato gave an interview to Philippe Verrièle for 20 Minutes around the same time. She told him that her career keeps her 60% of the time in Europe and 40% in the U.S.: "My career took longer to develop over there. Here, I arrived completely unknown, but there were enough critics and audience for me to be discovered. I was quickly offered good roles on large stages. In America, it takes much more time for an artist to take off. Even if this season, things are starting to heat up, there are still many more possibilities in Europe than over there."


Garth Trinkl said...

In this Washington season of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus', might one ask you for your opinion of Ms DiDonato as Dejanira in the filmed Paris opera production, under William Christie and on DVD, of Handel's 'Hercules'? I found her dramatic and musical performance in that work worthy of strong recommendation.

Perhaps, you did in fact review her portrayal of Handel's Dejanira, but I don't see a ready link here. (I will assume you, as an experienced empirical musicologist, don't find Handel's operas and sacred oratorios too far off of Jens Laurson's axis of 'extreme masterpieces' by Bach-Wagner-Mahler).

Charles T. Downey said...

Garth, thanks for the question. I mentioned that "Hercules" but have yet to see the DVD, although as you predict I am a big Handel fan.