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Drama Queens / Joyce DiDonato

Didonato,Joyce
Release Date: 11/06/2012 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 2654  
Composer:  Giuseppe Maria OrlandiniGiovanni PortaGeorge Frideric HandelReinhard Keiser,   ... 
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


Reviewing performances—live or recorded—by mezzo Joyce DiDonato is becoming repetitive. You wait for a flaw—an aspirated run, a note out of tune, a rote performance, a dropped note among cascades of 16th notes, a trill that does not catch perfectly, a lack of involvement or shallow characterization, a line lacking in legato or smooth emission, a strained high note, a shortness of breath, a da capo embellishment out of sync with the era or composer, a misuse or overuse of chest voice—but to no avail.

And she does not show off for its own sake. In this set of 13 arias DiDonato presents us with queens, princesses, sorceresses, empresses; some we’ve heard of (Handel’s Cleopatra and Alcina,
Read more Monteverdi’s Octavia, Haydn’s Armida), many we have not (Keiser’s Octavia and Galsuinde, Giacomelli’s Irene); and all are in one or another sort of distress. Galsuinde, the heroine of Keiser’s Fredegunda (I’m not making this up), sings “Let me weep/Then let me die; My dearest, grant me the bitter consolation in my suffering.” This gorgeous da capo aria is so beautiful that it’s heart-stopping, and DiDonato sings it with such resignation and pathos—no fancy roulades, no multi-octave leaps, just a long, beautiful melody and stupendous use of portamento for added sadness and warmth—that the five minutes it takes to do so just stand still. The da capo section is, of course, decorated, but with some darker tones.

Alcina’s “Ma quando tornerai”, a rage aria, is here taken faster than anyone might have guessed possible, with each word, each surge of notes spat out with venom: DiDonato leans on her voice as if each note counted. And the pleading B section is just that—a true yearning for her love with the full knowledge that he will not capitulate, leading to even more anger. This is not singing by the numbers.

And if you haven’t heard of Irene, Princess of Trebisond, from Giacomelli’s Merope (shame on you!), you’ll wish you knew the entire opera after hearing the unbearably tragic “Sposa, son disprezzata”, the lament of a despised wife with an unfaithful husband. By contrast, Berenice (from Orlandini’s opera of the same name) is clearly in a suicidal rage—what else would drive her to such maddening melismas? And with the orchestra’s strings slashing away under her melody? Shocking! In a long recitative-arioso Monteverdi’s Octavia sings of the plight of women in a male-dominated society with almost stupendous bitterness.

Why continue describing what goes on here? Alan Curtis has found a “drama queen” (in the best sense) so stupendous that he and his Complesso Barocco seem to be following her every mood with sharp attacks, rapid-fire playing and, when called for, tender, sensitive longing. Sonics are ideal—spotless and natural. This is simply glorious.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Berenice: Da torbida procella by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725 
2. Ifigenia: Madre diletta, abbracciami by Giovanni Porta
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
3. Alcina, HWV 34: Ma quando tornerai by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
4. Galsuinde: Lasciami piangere by Reinhard Keiser
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
5. Giulio Cesare, HWV 17: Piangerò la sorte mia by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
6. Antonio e Cleopatra: Morte col fiero aspetto by Johann Adolf Hasse
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1725; Italy 
7. Orontea: Intorno all'idol mio by Pietro Antonio Cesti
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
8. Alessandro, HWV 21: Brilla nell' alma un non inteso ancor by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; England 
9. Die edelmüthige Octavia: Geloso sospetto by Reinhard Keiser
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1705; Germany 
10. L'Incoronazione di Poppea: Disprezzata Regina by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1642; Venice, Italy 
11. Sposa son disprezzata by Geminiano Giacomelli
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
12. Berenice: Col versar, barbaro, il sangue by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725 
13. Armida, H 28 no 12: Odio, furor, dispetto by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Classical 
Written: 1783;  Eszterhazá, Hungary 

Featured Sound Samples

Alcina (Handel): "Ma quando tornerai"
Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Handel): "Piangero la sorte mia..."

Sound Samples

Berenice : Da torbida procella
Ifigenia in Aulide : Madre diletta
Alcina : Ma quando tornerai
Fredegunda : Lasciami piangere
Antonio e Cleopatra : Morte, col fiero aspetto
Giulio Cesare in Egitto : Piangerò la sorte mia
Orontea : Intorno all'idol mio
Alessandro : Brilla nell'alma
Octavia : Geloso, sospetto
L'incoronazione di Poppea : Disprezzata regina
Merope : Sposa, son disprezzata
Berenice : Col versar, barbaro, il sangue
Armida : Vedi, se t'amo... Odio, furor, dispetto

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 Brava! April 21, 2013 By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX) See All My Reviews "This is a great disc. Ms. DiDonato may be the best Mezzo in the world. What gems all these arias are. Beautifully sung and beautifully recorded; what more could one ask for? Highly recommend." Report Abuse
 The Reigning Queen March 2, 2013 By Jon P. (Santa Fe, NM) See All My Reviews "It's sort of superfluous to write a review of this recording. Joyce DiDonato is well known as at the top of her profession, and this is just one more example. Most of the music is unfamiliar but worth hearing. What more could you ask." Report Abuse
 Fireworks ! December 20, 2012 By Joseph Erdeljac (West Chester, PA) See All My Reviews "Joyce DiDonato is in close competition with Celilia Bartoli in the department of fast, firery and wonderful delivery of this music. Although the title is over stated the recording in not. Each and every selection is a delight and sometime one holds one's breath in the excitement of the moment." Report Abuse
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