Argentina Luna, Ravel, Rossini, Granados, Handel: Joyce DiDonato (mezzosoprano) with Craig Terry (piano), Mozarteum Argentino at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 18.4.2016 (JSJ)
Joyce DiDonato’s concerts for Mozarteum Argentino are becoming something of a tradition, taking place every other year with the latest the third.
Comparing the programmes for these there are in each the ‘core’ pieces from Handel and Rossini – two composers for which she has become especially well known on the opera stage. The first concert also included Spanish and Italian songs, while the second had more of a baroque and bel canto flavour. In contrast this latest pair of concerts had a somewhat more ‘modern’ feel, from the zarzuela of Pablo Luna to impressionist Ravel, showing yet another facet of the voice and talent of this wonderful singer.
And it was the aforementioned Luna’s well known ‘De España vengo’ from El Niño Judio that Ms DiDonato selected to open the concert. This was followed, in a complete change of contrast, with Ravel’s ‘Shéhérazade’, infinitely coloured and intensely felt. And to end the first half, another change of contrast with Semiramide’s aria ‘Bel raggio lusinghier’ from Rossini’s opera of the same name. Written for Colbran, this difficult piece was a perfect demonstration of the Rossinian style.
Mirroring the first half, the second half was started with Granados’ ‘Tres Tonadillas’ and an exquisitely sung ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’, Almirena’s aria from Handel’s Rinaldo. Then three arie antiche – ‘Caro mio ben’ by Giordani, ‘Se tu m’ami’ by Pergolesi and ‘Star Vicino’ attributed to Salvator Rosa – but with a difference, in a jazz arrangement, adding a lighter touch before the final ‘Tanti affetti in tal momento’ from Rossini’s La Donna del lago, a work that Ms DiDonato has sung in various houses to great acclaim, most recently at the Met in the current season.
In Craig Terry, Ms DiDonato had an enthusiastic and sympathetic accompanist who brought as much attention to the detail in the music as she did vocally and was equally at home with the various different genres. The easy rapport between them brought a degree of lightness to the concert, which was added to with Ms DiDonato’s introductions in her now characteristic mix of Italian, Spanish and French.
And as encores again some contrasts: Irving Berlin’s ‘I love a piano’, Richard Strauss’ ‘Morgen’ and finally ‘Over the rainbow’ from the The Wizard of Oz to bring to an end another unforgettable concert. Oh, and we still have yet to see Ms DiDonato in a full opera on the Teatro Colón stage – and either Semiramide or La Donna del lago would be good options, with neither apparently having been yet performed there.
Jonathan Spencer Jones