Press Room

Joyce DiDonato’s Furore and Paris Idomeneo earn raves in Europe

reviews in the U.S. for Joyce DiDonato’s Furore CD – 14 emotion-laden Handel arias
– have apparently created a spike in European attention, while more rave reviews
for her Paris Opéra performance in Mozart’s Idomeneo roll in from France, Germany, and
England.  And a German media
campaign emphasizes her role in a Handel biopic shot on authentic locations by
Germany’s top ARD TV network for the anniversary of the composer’s death 250
years ago.  It’s being shown all
over Europe this spring, commemorating Handel’s death in April 1759.

Mozart in Paris, as reported in London’s Times (which sent a critic for the
occasion), “DiDonato made [her] arias sound more glorious than they really are …
the American mezzo approached the sublime.  This Idomeneo was worth catching for her alone.” states unequivocally: “Ultimately
the real joy for Mozart – and us – in this staging is the beautiful American
mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who has it all … .  She is the light illuminating the inky night of this
production.”  And Germany’s Neue
Music Paper) declares: “Personifying Idamante in body and voice is Joyce
DiDonato, with her lovely, noble mezzo ideally suited to Mozart, as the bringer
of peace between Crete and Troy.”

Opera, Britain’s top international opera
periodical, declared Furore its “Disc of the Month” in no uncertain terms:

“Joyce DiDonato is a
mezzo who seemingly can do no wrong … . 
Though her singing is unquestionably the main thing here, praise is also
in order for her selections, a group of arias expressing rage and other
emotions of characters in distress. 
From Serse, for instance, we get … the fulminations of ‘Crude furie degl’
orridi abissi’, which, with its vivid declamation, flawless coloratura, and
riveting intensity, sets the tone for the stunning vocalism to come.

“The voice, luscious
and resonant, has ample weight without ever sounding heavy, and the timbre
itself has an inherent element of excitement.  There is a gutsiness to DiDonato’s sound lacking from that
of most mezzos in this repertoire. 
Indeed, random comparisons with others reveal that her accounts are
invariably the more highly charged, [and] her singing never lacks discipline.

“I can’t remember
the last time I enjoyed a solo Handel disc this much.”

one-hour TV bio of George Frideric Handel, by award-winning German filmmaker
Ralf Pleger, is titled Handel: The Film and argues that the German-born composer who
conquered London was one of the most popular musicians in history.  Being shown all over Europe in
mid-April, it stars DiDonato at recording sessions for Handel’s 1735 London hit
Alcina (to be
released this spring by Deutsche Grammophon) and in recreated historical
scenes.  In one of these, DiDonato
portrays Francesca Cuzzoni, a favorite prima donna of Handel, who tries to
throw her out of a window after she refuses to sing an aria he’s playing on the
harpsichord.  Not incidentally, the
film’s narrator is the popular author of Venice-based detective novels, Donna
Leon – a self-confessed “Handel freak” who dedicates her non-writing time and
hard-earned book royalties to promoting and recording the 45 operas by her
favorite composer (“a god”).

San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman says of DiDonato’s Furore: “This new recital disc of Handel
arias finds mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato singing with the technical bravura and
expressive lucidity of a great interpreter.”  And the Absolute Sound, the super-critical “golden ears” magazine, is
absolutely smitten:

“The recent surge in Handel aria
discs … has a flip side: many of the releases offer nothing special.  This one does.  Joyce DiDonato’s voice is gorgeous,
her technique copes with killer coloratura, and her dramatic sense is superb
. …  Her stage appearances in comic bel canto roles didn’t
prepare me for the fiery personality she unleashes on this aptly titled disc.
…  DiDonato is not afraid of
taking risks.  Her snarls in an
aria from Teseo
chill; her slow trills in an aria from Hercules are laden with pathos.  And virtually every selection includes
melodic fireworks delivered with expressiveness and purity of pitch. …  A don’t-miss disc.”

has been a French favorite since her international breakthrough in Paris as
Rossini’s Rosina at the Paris Opéra Garnier, followed by her performances with
William Christie in a tour-de-force performance as Handel’s Dejanira in Hercules – both available on DVD.  The encyclopedic French website ForumOpé delivered a rhapsodic review of Furore:

“With her customary generosity Joyce
presents a bountiful program centered around the ‘aria di furore’, but balanced
with plenty of more intimate moments. … 
This recording ranks high in the imposing discography of Handel
recitals.  It will enchant
aficionados from the first note, but will also appeal to others who want to
acquaint themselves not only with the personality but also with the
expressivity of this singer.  … She
is in great vocal form, with healthy resonance at every level, and with
exemplary control of Handelian style and syntax.”

In a leap
from the 18th and 19th centuries to the 21st,
DiDonato returns to New York in May to sing the world premiere of Peter
Lieberson’s cantata The World in Flower with the New York Philharmonic and its Music
Director-Designate, Alan Gilbert (May 7, 8, & 9).

#          #            #

A list of
Joyce DiDonato’s upcoming dates can be found below:

April 14, 2009

Vienna State Opera (company debut)

Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina)

Vienna State Opera Orchestra / Marco

May 7-9, 2009

New York, Avery Fisher Hall

Peter Lieberson: The World in

(world premiere*)

New York Philharmonic / Alan

*New York Philharmonic commission 

July 4, 2009

London, Royal Opera House

Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina)

Additional performances: July 7, 10,
13, 15, and 18

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