Thursday, September 23, 2010

Diva/Divo at Théâtre des Champs Elysées: We love Joyce

Les grandes voix: Joyce DiDonato, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, September 22 - 2010 

It's a great pleasure to see Joyce DiDonato back in Paris, less than 3 months after her superb Elena in Rossini's La donna del lago at Opéra Garnier and her memorable recital at Théâtre des Champs Elysées (TCE).  Joyce and Paris -- that's a love story, so I wasn't at all surprised to see TCE full with people.

In one sentence, this was a wonderful concert and my pleasure was doubled by the fact that Kazushi Ono (who I also like very much!) came with the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon to accompany Joyce. We learned...

that Joyce just finished recording her new CD with that same orchestra and maestro Ono. So basically we were privileged to listen to the first concert in which the material from her new CD "Diva Divo" is included. CD is supposed to be released in January 2011.

During the intermission, while wandering in the foyer of TCE, I saw a poster with the cover of "Diva Divo".  I thought it was 'bingo': it is suggestive, it matches the content, and it's very well done. I of course took a photo to share (heh!):

As for the concert, I think it was a good illustration of why Joyce DiDonato is so much loved. Apart from her admirable personality, I believe it's her high standards that set her apart. She IS a star and she could have come up with whatever a program and TCE would be full. Not Joyce! She doesn't take an easy road, but always come up with something fresh, always very well prepared, and you could feel she's fully invested in each and every performance...  and the public respond to that.

Have a look at the program of her concert! 

Sinfonietta I - Poulenc
Le Nozze di Figaro - Mozart: "Non son piu" (Cherubino) and "Deh, vieni, non tardar" (Susanna)
Sinfonietta II - Poulenc
La Clemenza di Tito - Gluck: "Se mai senti spirarti sul volto" (Sesto)
La Clemenza di Tito - Mozart: "Non piu di fiori" (Vitelia)
Iphigénie en Aulide (overture) - Gluck
Orphée aux enfers - Offenbach: "La mort m'apparaît souriante" (Eurydice)
Orfeo - Gluck/Berlioz: "Amour viens rendre à mon âme" (Orphée)
Béatrice et Bénédict (overture) - Berlioz
La Cenerentola - Rossini - Non piu mesta (Angelina)
encore La Clemenza di Tito - Mozart: "Parto, parto" (Sesto)

How often do you see such a generosity from a star (Diva or Divo)? Very seldom!

To make the whole evening extra enjoyable the orchestra played their 4 orchestral pieces wonderfully. A priori you'd say Poulenc would not match very well with the rest of the program, but once you listen to his Sinfonietta, it becomes perfectly appropriate.

I have never listened to Gluck's Clemenza and this aria was a complete discovery for me. Joyce of course sang it wonderfully, but what a roller-coaster this must be! The best moment of the first part was definitely Non piu di Fiori. Joyce was in the zone and you could tell that extra chemistry of live performance was happening during that aria... which ended with the crowd bursting with "Brava!" ;)

My favorite moment of the evening was Amour viens rendre à mon âme.  While this aria is very demanding on a singer, it opened extra-space to Joyce to display her extraordinary breathing technique, beauty and dexterity of her voice, and her splendid interpretative skills.  Brava!

Non piu mesta is of course a winner, but Joyce does not take that for granted. She sings that aria better than anyone, adding her coloratura signatures. I don't like to compare the singers, but since this aria is often tagged as Cecilia Bartoli's, I can only say "Forget Cecilia and enjoy Joyce!"

In summary, this was a concert of very-very high standards and if only a fraction of it was recorded on CD, then "Diva Divo" is definitely worth adding to your collection.*
 Next Wednesday, Joyce and Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon will perform the same program at Opéra National de Lyon. Si vous êtes dans la région lyonnaise, c'est le concert à ne pas rater! 

Edit: I forgot to mention one fashion detail that I would normally completely overlooked, but since the whole thing turns around "Diva Divo" you coud not not to notice that underneath that elegant dress Joyce wore the trousers. Diva-Divo, indeed! ;)
* To be confirmed, but from what we know the following material is included in CD: Clemenza di Tito (Mozart and Gluck); Cherubino (Massenet, Mozart, and Rossini); Cindarella (Rossini and Massenet); Faust (Gounod and Berlioz); Romeo & Juliet (Belini, Berlioz); Orfeo (Gluck, Offenbach); Ariadne (Strauss, Massenet) + "Parto, parto" as an extra for the folks who'll purchase the album via iTunes


  1. A very interesting program...

    TCE loves Joyce DiDonato and that can't be denied...

    Looking forward to thIS CD...

  2. What a perfect tribute to a thrilling class-act Diva. She is truly the "Yankee Diva" without all of silly frills of Fleming. She has set and maintained very high standards for herself and the audience.


  3. I'm so happy for her!
    And a terrific write-up,opera cake, straight from the heart.Appreciate the pictures,too.Hadn't seen any since THE HAIRCUT.
    Best regards.

  4. @Mei: CD will be great. I'm also glad she will include an aria from I Capuleti. She was smashing in that role (Anna Netrebko was Giulietta) at Opéra Bastille two years ago.
    It's kinda strange that she didn't sing (officially) that role ever since.

    @Haimes: To set the standards is difficult but there are more than few who manage to do that. The problem is to maintain those standards in every aspect. And that's what very few singers can do today. Now she must be around her lifetime best, and if you get a chance to listen to her live, don't miss it!

    @gaulimauli: Cheers to you!

    I don't know how much of this material will be included in her new recital with David Zobel, but even if they decide to stick to the program we listened to in June in Paris, trust me, you wouldn't want to miss it:

  5. Hello! Thank you so much for posting all these reviews and info on opera. I'm new to the opera scene; do you think you could write a post on how to tell a good/experienced singer from a bad one? (not good or bad, everyone has a different opinion, but how to tell if a singer sang the role well of not?) Thank you!