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Joyce DiDonato to host “An Opera Celebration” on PBS

“Joyce DiDonato has made some terrific records over the past few
years, including a delicious program of Handel duets,” stated a Gramophone review three years ago. Now, DiDonato – an unrivaled international Handel star – has recorded Furore, her first disc of solo scenes and arias for EMI’s Virgin Classics label, all furioso excerpts from Handel operas. Furore was released in Europe to coincide with DiDonato’s first Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at London’s Royal Opera House in September, and will be released in the U.S. on January 13 to coincide with her three Carnegie Hall appearances between January 18 and 25.

The London Sunday Times described Furore
as “a brilliant, and mostly offbeat, program of angry arias by
temperamental, high-voiced heroes and vindictive heroines,” and warned
that “Handelians will want to fasten their safety belts,” while the Observer stated: “Under the title Furore,
American mezzo Joyce DiDonato … bring[s] her rare dramatic intensity
and purity of tone to 14 mad scenes from Handel. Pain mingles
exquisitely with sorrow … [and] there are calmer beauties here, too, in
a collection that stands way out from the recent spate of Handel recitals.

Furore includes arias and scenes from Handel’s Serse, Teseo, Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Admeto, Hercules, Semele, Imeneo, Ariodante, and Amadigi di Gaula, and is a jewel in the crown of DiDonato’s growing discography. EMI has a webpage dedicated exclusively to the recording,

sign of recognition early in her career was Joyce DiDonato’s 2004
Richard Tucker Award from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Last
year she gladly came to the Foundation’s rescue when a colleague was
indisposed just before the annual Tucker Foundation Gala in New York.
She flew in from Europe on the day of the concert, borrowed a dress,
and sang three selections – including a signature “Una voce poco fà”
from Rossini’s Barber of Seville – that were described by the New York Times
as “among the most spectacular vocal feats this listener has ever
heard, thrown off with ease, a sense of fun, and pinpoint control.”

month, DiDonato is the onscreen host for the first telecast of the
Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala since 2002, to be shown in
December nationwide. She shares reminiscences of her adventure, and
introduces her colleagues – among them Diana Damrau, Renée Fleming, and
Simon Keenlyside, who sang Don Giovanni to her Donna Elvira in London a
few months ago.

DiDonato’s current appearances at the
Houston Grand Opera, where she got her start training as an HGO Studio
Artist, are her first in Berlioz’s rollicking Beatrice and Benedict, based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. The Houston Chronicle praised her “spirited Beatrice,” declaring, “DiDonato exudes personality and vocal splendor as haughty, disdainful, tart-tongued Beatrice.
The burnished beauty of her singing is best displayed in her big Act II
aria.” She repeats the role in concert under Sir Colin Davis in Paris
on February 5 and 7.

The Kansas-born shutterbug and widely-read blogger was the star of last season’s Barber of Seville telecast by The Met: Live in HD,
but is not singing at the Met this season. However, New York audiences
may attend any or all of her three Carnegie Hall performances this
January – on two consecutive Sunday afternoons and the Friday between.
On January 18, 2009, she joins a bevy of colleagues on Carnegie’s main
stage for the annual Marilyn Horne Foundation gala, celebrating the
great mezzo’s 75th birthday and her foundation’s 15th anniversary. The
following Sunday afternoon, January 25, DiDonato joins James Levine and
his MET Orchestra, again on the main stage, singing both Rossini’s song
cycle La regata veneziana and Mozart’s concert aria “Ch’io mi
scordi di te?”, with Peter Serkin at the piano. On Friday, January 23,
furor will reign in Zankel Hall, when DiDonato performs nine Handel
arias from her new CD, Furore, with Belgium’s superb early
music ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, and its leader, Christophe Rousset
– the same band heard on the recording. Les Talens Lyriques will give
DiDonato some respite with a few spirited orchestral selections between
her arias.

Joyce DiDonato at work:

December 15, PBS-TV (check local listings):
Hosting the 2008 Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala,

January 18, 2009, Carnegie Hall, NYC:
Marilyn Horne Foundation Gala

January 23, Zankel Hall, NYC:
“Furore!” – Handel arias with Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset

January 25, Carnegie Hall, NYC:
MET Orchestra / James Levine
Mozart: “Ch’io mi scordi di te?”, with Peter Serkin, piano; Rossini: La regata veneziana

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