Joyce DiDonato: Peace in the midst of chaos

The mezzo-soprano with an evening of operatic arias

(Photo: Brooke Shaden)

For Joyce DiDonato, her latest musical project is more than an evening of captivating Baroque operatic arias – it is something very close to the mezzo-soprano’s heart. “As a citizen of the world in 2016 the temptation to spiral down into the turmoil and pessimism that seemingly permeates all corners of our lives can overwhelm me at times,” admits Joyce DiDonato. With her programme “In War and Peace: Harmony through music”, she aims to present an alternative, to demonstrate ways of overcoming the chaos.

A maelstrom of emotions

Her programme makes it clear that fear, worry, despair, and also love and hope are emotions that people have felt and endured throughout the ages, today as much as in the 18th century. The Baroque opera heroines Joyce DiDonato brings to life with her singing are entangled in political intrigue, fatal conflicts and tragic love stories. For composers such as George Frideric Handel, Henry Purcell and Leonardo Leo, the situations that these women find themselves in are an ideal platform for impressively setting their emotions to music. And at the same time they show how destructive hatred and lust for power can be and how important serenity, generosity and compassion are for peaceful coexistence. “Ultimately and unquestionably the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us,” says the singer.

A visual synthesis of the arts

The operas of the Baroque were a synthesis of the arts, in which music and the staging were of equal importance. Joyce DiDonato is aware of this and the visual aspect is not neglected in her programme. Director Ralf Pleger has developed a multimedia show that underlines the dramatic aspects of music – which are also enhanced by the participation of dancer Manuel Palazzo. The mezzo-soprano is accompanied by Il pomo d'oro, an ensemble founded in 2012 which specialises in the performance of Baroque operas. The evening is conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev. Incidentally, Joyce DiDonato is to be seen again this season with the Berliner Philharmoniker: under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, she sings Hector Berlioz’ Scène lyrique La Mort de Cléopâtre, bringing another fascinating female figure to the Philharmonie.

(Photo: Brooke Shaden)