She sings at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, at London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and at the state opera houses in Munich and Vienna: Born in Kansas, graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and Grammy Award winner Joyce DiDonato has gone on to develop an international career after beginnings in San Francisco, Houston and Santa Fe. She is regarded as an ideal interpreter of opera roles by Handel, Mozart, Rossini and Strauss. Her great asset: a warm, nuanced and flexible voice which can master both virtuoso coloratura and intimate, lyrical music with the same ease. On top of all that, she also has impressive acting skills and an irresistible charm.

 

Berlin opera fans have already experienced Joyce DiDonato’s vocal and acting abilities: In October 2010, she made her debut at the Deutsche Oper as Rosina in Katharina Thalbach’s production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Seviglia. At the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, the singer now makes her first guest appearance in the Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie – and with a programme which is very fitting for the approaching holiday period: A Venetian Journey is the title given to her recital. Accompanied by pianist David Zobel, the songs and arias which she will perform all deal thematically with the lagoon city; stylistically, however, they cover a wide range – from Baroque to Romanticism to contemporary music.

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Yet another great mezzo-soprano is to be heard in the Philharmonie this June: Magdalena Kožená. Unlike Joyce DiDonato however, she is already an “old friend” of the house. In 2003, she was first heard as Idamante in a concert performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Her radiant voice made both audiences and press sit up and take notice. Since then, Berliners have often had the opportunity to enjoy the versatility of this Czech singer. Born in Brno, where she studied at the conservatory, the artist has shown herself in orchestral concerts to be a compelling interpreter of Mozart, Mahler and Ravel; in her recitals she has introduced audiences to the treasury of songs from her homeland, and she has excelled in performances of Baroque music, including Peter Sellar’s highly acclaimed ritualized staging of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

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Recently she sang Carmen in Bizet’s opera – firstly in the Berliner Philharmoniker’s new production at the Salzburg Easter Festival this year, in which she made her role debut, then later in a concert performance of the work in Berlin. For her next appearance at the Philharmonie as part of the Singers – The World of Vocal Music series, Magdalena Kožená and the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin present vocal compositions by French composers in unusual chamber music arrangements, giving a flavour of the atmosphere of French salons around the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

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