Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paris hearts Joyce

Les grandes voix: Joyce DiDonato,   Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, June 16 - 2010

David Zobel and Joyce DiDonato

Two years ago, also in June, Joyce DiDonato gave a concert/recital of American Songs at the Opéra Comique in Paris [Barber, Copland, Bernstein, Gershwin, plus several folk songs]. She was so terrific that I find it quite strange that she doesn't sing that repertoire more often. I guess that might be a magic formula to attract people in the US back to concert halls to listen to these insanely talented singers perform next to a piano only.
Last year Joyce came to Pleyel with Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset, and gave a marvelous recital of baroque arias, mostly from her CD Furore.

This year, like at  the Opéra Comique two years ago, Joyce performed in company of David Zobel on piano, and the recital was a selection of Italian love songs. After Pergolesi, Durante, Caccini, she added one tune from her last CD [Colbran] -- Assisa Appie D'un Salice from Rossini's Otello, which to me was the best aria of the evening. Everything that came after that aria was a big bonus.

A great performer does not come up without a program that includes a few less known songs, so after 5 Italian songs by Beethoven's she sang a few wonderful songs by a composer I've never heard about, Francesco Santoliquido [aka Francis Holywater]
Francesco Santoliquido -- italian composer. Trained at the Liceo di S Cecilia, Rome, he lived in Tunisia (1912-21), where he founded a music school, and from 1933 in Anacapri. He wrote in many genres, in a style influenced by Wagner and Debussy.

After the regular program she sang Voi che sapete from Le Nozze, which always works with the crowd, especially when sung the way she does it. As a final encore was the crown of the evening she throws a full aria Tanti Affetti from La donna del lago. After that aria the crowd went nuts. In Paris the standing ovations are extremely rare. I think that's good because once an artist receives it, it's a sign that something extraordinary has just happened and the public response is appropriate. It happens once a year or so, and it happened last night at the end of the concert -- a big standing ovation to Joyce.

Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is a good place for recitals of this type: it's not too large to spoil the proximity between the public and the artist, and its acoustics is good. With Joyce at her best and David Zobel very good too, this was clearly the best recital I've seen this season.

Love between Joyce and the Parisian public has been built over the years and she's now undoubtedly the Parisian darling. You could feel that from excitement brewing in the crowd before the concert. Once Joyce showed up on stage there was an unusually loud applause. Add to that a fact that the theater [the capacity of which is 1905 seats!] was practically full --which is next-to unbelievable for a recital with no orchestra, with all the amazing musical events happening in Paris right now, and bearing in mind the fact that it was Wednesday evening-- all you can say is: Paris hearts Joyce ;)


  1. Love this girl!I'm waiting to see her as Elena on 27 of june.Joyce and Juan Diego are probably right now the most desired couple in Opera around the world.

  2. DiDonato got a well-earned standing-O on 24 June, along with Florez -- a stunning evening all around, especially because the scenery was absent because of a wishy-washy French strike. Wish i could have heard more performances. Her Tanti affetti was even better than the one on youtube from an earlier perf.
    Charlotte Webb