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Mezzo DiDonato breaks leg, finishes performance

DiDonato, the feisty mezzo-soprano from Kansas who was born to play Rossini’s equally
feisty comic heroine, Rosina, fell and broke her right leg early in act one of The
Barber of Seville

on Saturday, July 4th, the opening night of an important revival at London’s
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.  She returned to the stage to finish the
evening’s performance, and blogged into the night about her adventure and its
aftermath.  She then showed up on every operatic weblog in the world.
 The Kansas City trouper said “the show must go on”, and she plans to be
back on stage in the sparkling production tonight (Tuesday, July 7), as well as
in subsequent performances on July 10, 13, 15, and 18.   

After DiDonato had finished delivering her showpiece aria “Una voce poco fà”,
she tripped and fell as she ran off stage. Her manager, Simon Goldstone,
watching in the audience, knew immediately that there was a problem when he saw
her use the signal that theater folk use to ask for some ice!  “For act
two, she came in with a cane.  Some people in the audience clearly thought
it was part of the show,” he says. But that was just the beginning. DiDonato was
determined to finish the show, and after the final curtain she was rushed to
the nearest ER.  The opera is nearly three hours long, and she spent about
four hours in the ER of University College Hospital before being released.
 She was assured that while this kind of break is painful, it heals
quickly (the broken bone is the fibula, the outer bone of the lower leg); the
orthopedic specialist who saw her the next day said she should be able to
perform in a day or two. Accordingly, she was fitted with a new fiberglass cast
in shocking pink – to match her costume.  It’s rumored that the Royal
Opera House is planning a wheelchair entrance for tonight’s performance (Bette
Midler, anyone?).

The Independent’s
Edward Seckerson, whose review was one of the first to appear in London’s
papers, reported at a time when the extent of DiDonato’s injury had not yet
been determined:   

“Joyce DiDonato’s dazzling Rosina
was hanging on for dear life at that point having stumbled and sprained her
ankle in the second scene. She battled on, of course, singing with delicious
innuendo and fabulous aplomb, and the crutch she used came in useful when she
trashed the set in the storm scene. But then no one was ever buying that ‘I am
a well behaved girl’ line. DiDonato has the attitude; she owns this role.”

DiDonato is
the only principal member of the cast who was also in the original production
in December 2005 (this is its first revival). “Although her reputation was
already spreading fast, she was not the international star then that she now
very clearly is”, Simon Goldstone noted. Now she’s an international star
whose Rosina has lit up stages from Tokyo, Paris and New York to Chicago and
most recently Vienna, where she was hailed by a reporter for Opera News:

“She vamped, camped and cavorted her
way into the Viennese public’s heart. Ravishing in powder blue, she dazzled the
hearer with interpolations verging on the impossible (I was reminded of Beverly
Sills’s sometimes wild improvisations), highlighted by a stunning trill.
Basically, she blew everyone else off the stage.”

DiDonato also lit up movie screens worldwide when she starred in the
Metropolitan Opera’s sparkling production of “Barber” transmitted live in high
definition on March 24, 2007. The Royal Opera will have its own high-definition
transmission of “Barber” next week, and DiDonato plans to be part of it.
 Originally planned for screening only in London’s Trafalgar Square, the Barber
of Seville
will be
shown on huge screens in a dozen other places around the UK on Wednesday, July
15, broadcast live from the stage.  

recently began a new exclusive recording relationship with Virgin
Classics.  Her debut album, an
all-Handel collection called Furore, has been a Billboard bestseller since its release in January 2009.  Her next album, slotted for release in
the fall – when she returns to New York City to star once again in “Barber” at
the Metropolitan Opera – is, appropriately, an all-Rossini album. 
Joyce’s blog is

Her web site

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© 21C Media Group, July 2009

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