A Magnificent Joyce DiDonato at the Teatro Real

SpainSpain Joyce DiDonato, In War & Peace: Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanichev (conductor), Teatro Real, Madrid, 2.6.2017. (JMI)

Joyce DiDonato © Javier del Real
Joyce DiDonato © Javier del Real

Since last September, Joyce DiDonato has been touring the world with a series of concerts entitled In War & Peace. The pieces are always the same, and the title reflects the two parts of the program, the first dedicated to operas about war and the second to more peaceful ones. Normally, an exceptional singer is expected to display high notes, agilities and fireworks, but there is little of that here.

There are other unusual aspects to the concert: some ad hoc lighting, video projections and the presence of a dancer. To this could be added the fact that for 20 minutes before the concert began, Ms. DiDonato was on stage in a still position as the audience took their seats.

Joyce DiDonato has shown what a great singer she still is, although the public that almost filled the Teatro Real might have preferred a few more fireworks. There was a long speech by the artist at the end where she expressed her concerns about the current situation in the world, including what happens in her own country, which was very well received by the audience.

Ms. DiDonato opened with Storgé’s aria from Handel’s Jephta, which served to warm up her voice, and then moved on to a brilliant interpretation of ‘Prendi quel ferro’ from Leonardo Leo’s Andromaca. She was magnificent in the famous ‘Remember me’ which ends Dido and Aeneas, followed by Agrippina’s aria from the eponymous Handel opera. The first half of the concert ended with a moving interpretation of the well-known ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Handel’s Rinaldo.

In the second part she was superb in an aria from The Indian Queen by Purcell and one from Handel’s Susanna. The program ended with a second aria from Rinaldo and Cleopatra’s ‘De tempeste’ from Giulio Cesare.

She offered two encores, the first of which was an aria by Jommelli, where she really shone. She finished with ‘Morgen’ by Richard Strauss.

Accompanying Ms. DiDonato was the excellent Il Pomo d’Oro with its outstanding conductor, Maxim Emelyanichev.

In short, it was a rather unusual but most interesting concert.

José M. Irurzun

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