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Classical - Released August 29, 2014 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diamant d'Opéra - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato has released several albums of lesser-known operatic repertory without a hint of the musty museum in sight. Her personality seems especially well-suited to this collection of arias from Naples in the early 19th century, a category that includes the young Rossini. DiDonato offers the superb Riedi al soglio from Zelmira (track 4), one of the underrated Rossini showpieces, and there is a pair of arias each from Donizetti and Bellini. The rest of the program is devoted to composers lesser-known (Pacini, Mercadante) or totally obscure (Michele Carafa, Carlo Valentini). The last named of these is represented by an aria from an opera about a sleepwalker called Il sonnambulo, and DiDonato's method involves substituting a new take for a familiar one on a particular theme. This is effective, and she makes the case for much of this material. Most important of all, she sounds great, and she's having fun. DiDonato has been a rising star among the opera cognoscenti for some years now, but it is likely that this release, with the combined marketing muscle of Erato and Warner Classics behind it, will help her become a major star. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released January 31, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Handel spent many years in Italy during his youth and it was here that he composed his anti-heroic comedy, Agrippina, at the age of twenty-four, before eventually settling down in London. Its immoral, corrupt and decadent plots are presented as an inherent part of daily life for the ruling class of ancient Rome, along with their insatiable desire for political and sexual power. Handel was fascinated by Italian music and composed this particular opera in less than three weeks upon the request of a Venetian theatre, where it was then performed some twenty-seven nights in a row. Such was the enormity of the opera’s success that it firmly established the young composer’s reputation in Europe as a result. The score is bursting with emotion and has so many twists and turns that even the Venetians, who were used to these kinds of storylines, were blown away. The colourful libretto includes betrayals, assassinations, feigned love and lies of every kind – all of which are elements that the American film industry delights in incorporating into the films of today under the direction of someone like Martin Scorsese or the Coen brothers. This studio recording was made in the Dolomites in May 2019, in conjunction with a European tour and features a dazzling cast led by the fierce Joyce DiDonato (Agrippina). This is DiDonato is at her very best, combining her vocals with marvellously conducted flourishes. She perfectly encapsulates the difficult, multi-faceted role by reflecting each one of Agrippina’s personality traits, from formidable intelligence and masterful manipulation to being a loving mother and wife. Joining her onstage is an exceptional cast that includes Franco Fagioli (Nerone), Jakub Józef Orliński (Ottone), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Giunone) and Elsa Benoit (Poppea), along with the II Pomo d’Oro ensemble, feverishly conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev. This can only be described as a Handel grand cru. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 28, 2015 | Erato - Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Grammy Awards
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 étoiles de Classica
In Great Scott, the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano, one of today’s best-loved classical singers, creates a role conceived specifically with her in mind. The character she plays, Arden Scott, just happens to be an opera star, and she is the lynchpin of what Fred Plotkin of WQXR, the USA’s leading classical music radio station, welcomed as a “deeply moving and musically brilliant work” that “should enter the standard repertory just as Heggie’s two previous masterpieces – Dead Man Walking and Moby Dick – already have”. Jake Heggie, who has been described as US opera’s most successful composer, chose the celebrated playwright Terence McNally as his librettist for Great Scott. The two previously collaborated on the gripping Dead Man Walking, which has become something of a modern classic since its premiere in 2000. Joyce DiDonato first performed its central role, Sister Helen Prejean, at New York City Opera in 2002 and will do so again in concert stagings in London and Madrid in January/February 2018, coinciding with the album release of Great Scott. © Warner Classics
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Mélodies - Released September 7, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
The sculptor Camille Claudel, radical experimentalist and lover and possible influencer of Rodin, has fascinated artists in various media ever since she was institutionalized under controversial circumstances. She has been played on film by both Isabelle Adjani and Juliette Binoche. Now it's the turn of American composer Jake Heggie, who wrote the titular song cycle here for the present performer, American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato. The text by Gene Scheer, depicting several major artworks and turning points in Claudel's life, is highly evocative, and Heggie matches it with music that's complementary to the words and extremely flattering to DiDonato's voice. Sample "Shakuntala," which brings to life and into time Claudel's flowing, passionate sculpture of the same name. More radical than Heggie's work is the decision to let its medium, the combination of soprano and string quartet, "bleed" into the Richard Strauss and Debussy songs on the program, which are arranged for the same combination. Your mileage may vary on this, but in the live performance at London's Wigmore Hall, it helped build to Heggie's portrayal of Claudel's obsessive inner world. The audience's rapturous response to all this is retained, as are DiDonato's two encores, which have the relaxed quality (note the humorous false start of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer) of celebration after a job well done. Recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 21, 2013 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 8, 2012 | Warner Classics

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Opera - Released October 24, 2017 | Warner Classics

Booklet
Presented in concert in Strasbourg in April 2017, this bold performance of Hector Berlioz's chef-d'oeuvre, Les Troyens, is an important achievement in the up-and-down history of this five-act opera. Though Les Troyens suffered numerous cuts in its early years, and was divided by Berlioz into two shorter works, La prise de Troie and Les Troyens à Carthage, much of the music was cut, including the famous ballet, Royal Hunt and Storm, and Berlioz died without ever hearing the opera in its entirety. Performed here by the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg under John Nelson, and featuring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Dido, Queen of Carthage, tenor Michael Spyres as Aeneas, and coloratura contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieu as Cassandra, this live performance delivers Les Troyens complete and uncut, with every note in place, making it something of a rarity among recorded versions. The score is compelling, poignantly emotional, and grand, conceived in the same Romantic operatic tradition that inspired Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, and even though Berlioz doesn't take four evenings to tell his version of Virgil's Aeneid, Les Troyens has a similar epic sweep in recounting the epic tale of four ancient city-states, and may well remind listeners of the Ring in its elaborate orchestration and the technical demands on the singers. Yet this presentation on four CDs and a DVD of highlights is quite enjoyable and well suited for home listening, and the music constantly surprises and charms, despite the heftiness of the drama as a whole. Highly recommended for Berlioz fans and adventurous opera lovers. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is adventurous in everything she does, but perhaps nowhere more than in this collection. DiDonato begins her booklet note by describing beginning voice students' encounters with the volume 24 Italian Songs and Arias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, which is remarkably still in common use coming up on a century and a half since its compilation. She reinforces the connection with a bonus track (it's appended to track 14) that is remarkably virtuosic: an accomplished singer makes herself sound like a freshman voice major. In that bonus track, DiDonato sums up the project as an exhortation to "play with these songs." Yet most of the material does not come from 24 Italian Songs and Arias, although Conti's Quella Fiamma is present in the longer version of the book, called Arie Antiche. That gets turned into a tango, which lets you know that you're dealing with something other than the usual too-pat equation of Baroque music and jazz. Other Baroque arias get jazz treatment from a band led by pianist Craig Terry, but this is not the end of it. Some are turned into piano ballads (one wouldn't think Caccini's Amarilli, mia bella would have been susceptible to this, but in DiDonato's hands it is), and there is a pair of Vivaldi arias, not from Arie Antiche at all, treated in entirely different ways. Then there is a good deal of music from the American pop songbook. Most such pop excursions by opera singers don't work well; the resources of one vocal tradition are being forced onto another. DiDonato's operatic readings of the likes of Duke Ellington's (In My) Solitude may not be for everyone, but the fact that she introduces some improvisation into these is remarkable in itself. The bottom line is that the whole thing may seem to be all over the map, and perhaps it is, but DiDonato's personality holds the project together, and collectively, the songs represent some fairly deep explorations of the relationships among Baroque music, jazz, and American pop. This release earned a 2020 Grammy award in the U.S. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Full Operas - Released September 1, 2005 | Naxos

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Archiv Produktion

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Opera - Released August 26, 2013 | Warner Classics International

Booklet
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Warner Classics

An ambitious German composer newly arrived in England in 1710, it took Handel a decade to suss out what would best tickle English musical tastes, finally settling on Italian serious opera with a dash of English semi-opera. He finally hit the bullseye in 1720 with Radamisto. Played 10 times in its first run, Radamisto was revised for a new cast and premiered again within months, then revived in its revised version for a third run the following season. Unfortunately, Radamisto has not fared as well on recordings with only two more than adequate but less than inspired performances in print prior to the release of this recording -- Horst-Tanu Margraf's stately 1962 recording with the Händel-Festspielorchester Halle and Nicholas McGegan's sprightly 1993 recording with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra -- and this superlative 2003 recording with the experienced Alan Curtis leading Il Complesso Barocco is a distinct improvement on both of them. There's the singing, which ranges from the way more than competent Zachary Stains to the absolutely thrilling Patrizia Ciofi. There's the playing, which is unfailingly passionate and invariably polished. There's the conducting, which is both highly dramatic and magnificently structural. And finally there's the sound, which is clear and deep and honest. While not perhaps the greatest of Handel's English operas, this recording makes a compelling case for checking the work out. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 2, 2009 | Warner Classics

Many opera fans are perfectly happy to enjoy Rossini's operas without ever visiting the facts of his personal life beyond that which can be read in a program booklet. As the old saying goes, however, behind every great man there is a woman, and in Rossini's case it was Spanish diva Isabella Colbran, whom he worshiped from afar before the two became an item around 1817 -- he was 25, she 32 -- and subsequently married in 1822. Not long after they married her voice went into sharp decline; this is documented in a number of unflattering reviews from both Italy and London. Nevertheless, this did not occur before Rossini had the chance to write his most challenging and involved roles for her, and this part of his legacy is what is explored on Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is not your ordinary diva; mere months before Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse was released, DiDonato made the headlines when she broke her leg during a performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, yet finished the performance on crutches. This helped cement DiDonato's reputation as a trouper, but it is the diva -- not the trouper -- that we hear on Colbran, the Muse. While recording companies do not routinely concern themselves with exploring the legacies of singers no one can reasonably hear, to her credit DiDonato takes this project quite seriously and does her best to channel Colbran through music Rossini wrote for her. There is some controversy as to whether Colbran was a soprano or a mezzo; however, there certainly isn't anything in her music that DiDonato can't handle; moreover, she does so not only with accuracy and respect for the model but also with no small amount of sheer star power and charisma. Rossini tends to be less harder on the orchestra than on singers, and this can lead to a certain underpowered "house style" with Rossini, especially in Italy. Not so here, as Edoardo Müller and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia approach every bar of their music with attentive dedication and a scrupulous sense of ensemble dynamics. Likewise, the chorus doesn't sound like it's in the next province, yet never covers the star of the show and is well drilled by Müller. Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse is a terrific star turn for DiDonato and an especially fine tribute to an artist whose voice gave way more than 50 years before Thomas Edison developed the technological means to capture it. This quirky idea succeeds so well that opera fans might regard it as a privilege. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Erato - Warner Classics

Booklet
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has gained a strong following with novel, even fearless programs, flawlessly executed. The stimulus for In War & Peace was extramusical: DiDonato temporarily shelved a different project in the wake of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. The concept is ambitious: the booklet includes quotes about finding peace from figures as varied as Patrick Stewart, Riccardo Muti, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and an inmate at New York's Sing Sing prison. Does it directly connect with DiDonato's program of Baroque arias? Listeners will have to decide for themselves, but the good news is that the program stands on its own. War and peace are among the most common themes in Baroque opera, but DiDonato has woven them together intelligently here. For one thing, the two interpenetrate, with elevated tragic arias in the War half of the program, and complex dramatic conceptions in the Peace half. Sample Handel's remarkable "Augelletti, che cantante," from Rinaldo, with its sopranino recorder part and discursive development. Added bonuses are some world-premiere arias from the still largely unexplored corpus of opera seria from the middle 18th century, represented by compositions of Leonardo Leo and Niccolò Jommelli. Equally good are the big hits, including a magnificent, deliberate "When I am laid in earth," from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, which shows the breadth of DiDonato's conceptualizations of war and peace. The accompaniment from the historical-instrument group Il Pomo d'Oro under Maxim Emelyanychev is ideal. Recommended, whatever your views on the feasibility of world peace. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 13, 2012 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released October 8, 2012 | EMI

Following the success of her 2011 album, Diva Divo, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presents an exciting collection of virtuosic arias in her 2012 release on Virgin, Drama Queens. Drawing on royal roles in Baroque operas by Handel, Monteverdi, and Haydn, as well as selections from such minor composers as Orlandini, Porta, Keiser, Hasse, Cesti, and Giacomelli, DiDonato demonstrates both her impressive vocal abilities and a wide range of characterizations. Supported by the period ensemble Il Complesso Barocco, conducted by Alan Curtis, DiDonato sings with dynamic power and exquisite embellishments, executing runs and ornaments with sparkling brilliance and projecting her voice with ease. But even more important than her technical prowess is her charismatic presentation of these 17th and 18th century opera heroines, whose passionate emotions and exaggerated behavior are wonderfully realized in DiDonato's dramatic interpretations. Since Baroque opera has become something of a specialized interest of early music connoisseurs, DiDonato's album is a welcome introduction for listeners less familiar with this period, and her faithful performances make the era come to life with appealing freshness and vitality. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 21, 2011 | Warner Classics

The frequency with which mezzo sopranos are called on to play male roles lies behind the ingenious premise for Diva Divo. Joyce DiDonato has selected pairs of operas that basically have the same plot or source, and sings an aria from a role written for a male character from one, and for a female character from the other. Sometimes both of the operas are well known, as in the case of Faust and La Damnation de Faust. Generally, though, this involves pairing a familiar opera with one less familiar (La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart and Gluck, two of the nearly 40 settings of Metastasio's libretto), with the prolific Massenet providing three of the dark horses: Chérubin for Le nozze di Figaro, Cendrillon for La cenerentola, and Ariadne for Ariadne auf Naxos. Because of the composers' differing styles and sensibilities, it would not be immediately evident to someone unfamiliar with the music to detect which of the paired arias was for a man and which was for a woman. Mozart's Vitellia, in fact, sounds considerably more forcefully masculine than Gluck's Sesto. DiDonato's performances are absolutely first-rate throughout, proving her equally up roles assigned to either gender. Her voice is notable for its clarity, evenness, and agility, and it's beautifully showcased in a virtuoso aria like Rosina's "Contro un cor" from Il barbiere di Siviglia. She is just as effective in the long-breathed lyricism of Susanna's "Deh, vieni, non tardar" from Le nozze di Figaro, "Premiers transports" from Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette, and Siébel's "Faites-lui mes aveux" from Faust. Each of the selections demonstrates DiDonato's acute musicality and her gift for probing characterizations. Kazushi Ono leads the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra National de Lyon in respectful accompaniment. Virgin's sound is clear and clean, but favors the orchestra at the expense of the voice on several tracks. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 1, 2019 | Warner Classics

Booklet
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is adventurous in everything she does, but perhaps nowhere more than in this collection. DiDonato begins her booklet note by describing beginning voice students' encounters with the volume 24 Italian Songs and Arias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, which is remarkably still in common use coming up on a century and a half since its compilation. She reinforces the connection with a bonus track (it's appended to track 14) that is remarkably virtuosic: an accomplished singer makes herself sound like a freshman voice major. In that bonus track, DiDonato sums up the project as an exhortation to "play with these songs." Yet most of the material does not come from 24 Italian Songs and Arias, although Conti's Quella Fiamma is present in the longer version of the book, called Arie Antiche. That gets turned into a tango, which lets you know that you're dealing with something other than the usual too-pat equation of Baroque music and jazz. Other Baroque arias get jazz treatment from a band led by pianist Craig Terry, but this is not the end of it. Some are turned into piano ballads (one wouldn't think Caccini's Amarilli, mia bella would have been susceptible to this, but in DiDonato's hands it is), and there is a pair of Vivaldi arias, not from Arie Antiche at all, treated in entirely different ways. Then there is a good deal of music from the American pop songbook. Most such pop excursions by opera singers don't work well; the resources of one vocal tradition are being forced onto another. DiDonato's operatic readings of the likes of Duke Ellington's (In My) Solitude may not be for everyone, but the fact that she introduces some improvisation into these is remarkable in itself. The bottom line is that the whole thing may seem to be all over the map, and perhaps it is, but DiDonato's personality holds the project together, and collectively, the songs represent some fairly deep explorations of the relationships among Baroque music, jazz, and American pop. This release earned a 2020 Grammy award in the U.S. © James Manheim /TiVo

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Joyce DiDonato in the magazine