Joyce DiDonato Embarks on U.S. Recital Tour, Capped by Carnegie Hall Recital

A singer could scarcely be hotter than Joyce DiDonato right now: recently named Artist of the Year by Gramophone magazine, the mezzo-soprano has a new Virgin/EMI album just out (Diva, Divo, released Jan 25); is currently starring in the lead role of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking at Houston Grand Opera; and soon embarks on an eight-city U.S. recital tour (Feb 8 - March 6), capping it with her main-stage Carnegie Hall recital debut. The tour program will see DiDonato and pianist David Zobel perform songs and arias by Haydn, Rossini, and Chaminade as they travel from Fort Worth, Santa Monica, and her hometown of Kansas City, MO, and on to Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and finally New York.

At her Carnegie Hall recital, DiDonato will also give the world premiere of the song suite The Breaking Waves by Heggie, a composer to whom the mezzo has been close since making her 2002 New York City Opera debut in the role of Sister Helen Prejean in his Dead Man Walking. (DiDonato also recorded Heggie's The Deepest Desire: Four Dramatic Songs of Praise as the title work of her 2006 Eloquentia solo album, The Deepest Desire.) The mezzo's main tour program consists of Haydn's Scena di Berenice, the aria "Assisa appiè d'un salice" from Rossini's Otello, and songs by Rossini and French composer Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944). Varying the rest of the program from city to city, DiDonato will also blend in Italian rarities by Leoncavallo, Arturo Buzzi-Peccia, and Vincenzo Di Chiara, as well as songs by Reynaldo Hahn.

The New York Times described DiDonato as a "gilt-edged opera star," while the Times of London characterized her voice as "24-karat gold." Gramophone encapsulated DiDonato's appeal at length, describing her "feistiness - in the sense of ebullience, of being willing to push, of being able to throw herself entirely into a role with all guns blazing, of being able to project a unique personality at the same time as vivid characterizations." Besides being named the magazine's Artist of the Year - an award determined by Gramophone's readers - DiDonato won for Best Recital disc of 2010, as voted by the magazine's critics, for her Virgin/EMI album Colbran, the Muse. Devoted to fiery arias Rossini composed for his wife, Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran, the recital disc cemented DiDonato's status as the Rossini singer of the moment, scoring high on the Billboard classical chart. Gramophone's senior opera critic, John Steane, observed that DiDonato "sings with a rare purity of tone, ease on the high Bs, an impressive degree of technical skill, and lively powers of characterization," proving herself "one of the most delightful artists of our time."

DiDonato's Diva, Divo

DiDonato's third Virgin/EMI solo album - Diva, Divo - was released on January 25. This playfully conceived recital sees the American singer take full advantage of the vocal and gender range of the mezzo repertoire, voicing not only the eager young men of her many "trouser" roles but also passionate heroines. With the dramatic flair and vocal acuity of an operatic natural, she sings an array of roles on the recording, including Massenet's Chérubin and Ariane, Mozart's Susanna, Berlioz's Marguerite, Bellini's Romeo, and Strauss's Composer. Along with DiDonato's dizzying characterizations, the album explores the same stories in operatic treatments by different composers, so we hear the Figaro story as conceived by both Mozart and Massenet, Faust by Berlioz and Gounod, and Cinderella by Massenet and Rossini.

More stage highlights in 2011

Winter and spring of 2011 will once again underscore DiDonato's standing as one of the most virtuosic, charismatic, and theatrically versatile artists on the international scene - in opera, in recital, and on record. Following her February-March U.S. recital tour, DiDonato will be based through May in New York at the Metropolitan Opera, making her role debut as Isolier in a new Bartlett Sher Met production of Rossini's Le comte Ory (March 24-April 21). The cast also includes Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau, and the April 9 performance will be broadcast around the world via the Met's "Live in HD" series. Following the production, DiDonato will stay on at the Met to star as the Composer in Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (May 7-13).

For her second tour of the season, DiDonato takes on her next major Handel challenge, crossing Europe in the dramatic title role of Handel's Ariodante in performances with Il Complesso Barocco and conductor Alan Curtis. The tour - which is to celebrate Virgin/EMI's May release of an Ariodante recording with DiDonato, Curtis, and company - starts on May 20 in Baden-Baden, Germany, with stops in Paris and London. Of DiDonato's way with Ariodante's famous aria "Scherza, infida," which appears on her Virgin arias disc Furore, the UK's Observer noted: "Pain mingles exquisitely with sorrow in her daring decoration of 'Scherza, infida' from Ariodante."

DiDonato finishes her season with a July 5-16 run in the title role of Massenet's Cendrillon at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducted by Bertrand de Billy. DiDonato's 2005 Sante Fe Opera performance in Cendrillon was lauded as "full of pathos and dazzling vocalism" by Opera magazine.

Joyce DiDonato: 2011 engagements

January 22 - February 5
Houston, Texas
Houston Grand Opera / Patrick Summers
Heggie: Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen Prejean)

February 8
Fort Worth, Texas
Bass Recital Hall
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 11
Santa Monica, California
Broad Stage Recital Series
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 13
Kansas City, Missouri
Harriman-Jewell Recital Series
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 15
Washington, D.C.
Vocal Arts Society
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 18
Chicago, Illinois
The University of Chicago Presents
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 20
Atlanta, Georgia
Spivey Hall
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

February 28
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Perelman Theater
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

March 6
New York, New York
Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall (Carnegie recital debut)
Recital with pianist David Zobel
Program: Haydn, Rossini, Chaminade, Hahn

March 26
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita Grand Opera Gala

March 24
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera / Maurizio Benini
Rossini: Le comte Ory (Isolier - role debut)
Also: March 29; April 2, 5, 9*, 14, 18, & 21
* "Live in HD" international broadcast

May 7
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera / Maurizio Benini
Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Komponist - house role debut)
Also: May 10 & 13

May 20
Baden-Baden, Germany
Festspielhaus
Handel: Ariodante (title role)
Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis

May 23
Paris, France
Théatre des Champs-Elysées
Handel: Ariodante (title role)
Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis

May 25
London, England
Barbican Hall
Handel: Ariodante (title role)
Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis

July 5
London, England
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Bertrand de Billy
Massenet: Cendrillon (title role)
Also: July 7, 9, 11, 13, & 16

www.JoyceDiDonato.com

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