Thursday, February 17, 2011

Singing "so solidly to the heart of the music": The mesmerizing moments of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato

Celebrated American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gives her second Spivey Hall recital this Sunday, February 20, at 3 PM.  She's on a tour leading up to her solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall, and she performed in Washington earlier this week. Writing for The Washington Post, Anne Midgette found plenty to like:

Be they bored, rapt or somewhere in between, everyone in a concert hall is moving together through the same two hours. The great achievement of a performance, though, is to suspend time so that everyone is existing, however briefly, in the same moment - a piece of distilled awareness in the form of sound.

It happened at the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's recital at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Tuesday night, more than once. Whether she was singing a dramatic monologue, such as Haydn's challenging "Scena di Berenice," which opened the program, or a song by Cecile Chaminade, fleeting and iridescent as a soap bubble, DiDonato would find a phrase and sing so solidly to the heart of the music, luxuriating in each note, that the sound opened and breathed and blossomed. Rather than being propelled forward, everyone hovered in the moment, together, not wanting it to end.

Not wanting it to end indeed! It's something the best singers can do that's different even with the most extraordinary instrumentalists -- the uniquely personal nature of creating music with one's voice (from the core of one's being) enables those who master it at the highest levels to bring us all into their world, in a rapturously intimate of those magnificent humanizing experiences that connects music-lovers and great singers during a performance. 

Midgette's review continues:

Her voice is lyrical rather than heavy or dramatic, with a shining freshness that gave a particular radiance to the French songs (the Chaminade set and Reynaldo Hahn's cycle "Veneziana), and a caramel warmth to its depths that glowed in the showstopping aria from Rossini's "Otello," supported by her eager accompanist, David Zobel.

Now, doesn't that sound enticing and delicious?  If only (if only!) people who say "I don't really like singing" could hear SINGING LIKE THIS -- their minds would be forever changed! 

This promises to be yet another truly memorable Spivey Hall moment.  Ticket sales have been brisk for this recital by DiDonato, who graces the stages of most major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, San Francisco, Munich, Vienna, and (this season ) Berlin.  She performs with major orchestras and top conductors everywhere. 

Moreover, she is a dedicated recitalist, committed to keeping the song recital alive and well in the USA (which is no small aspiration in a country with legislators who regularly take pride in seeking to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts -- and, in multiple ways, no small personal sacrifice -- thank you, Joyce!).  She's also been a fan of Spivey Hall since first singing here, and has made mention in various media interviews of it being an extraordinary place to sing (thank you AGAIN, Joyce!).

So, my music-loving friends and readers, this one is a total no-brainer.  BE HERE and you'll be so very happy you chose to spend two hours of your week and life with this lovely, extremely talented and extraordinarily accomplished artist.  There are still some good tickets remaining, plus there's a free pre-concert talk at 2 PM by Clayton State University's Director of Opera and Vocal Studies, Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller (himself a vocalist), who will give you interesting insights into what to listen for in this program, to enhance your pleasures of experiencing this wonderful artist in recital.
We're also proud to be presenting the Atlanta debut of young Spanish organist RAUL PRIETO RAMIREZ  this Saturday afternoon, February 19, at 3 PM. In addition to being something of a "rock-star" organist in Madrid, drawing big crowds to the Municipal Auditorium where he is organist-in-residence, Raul Prieto enjoys a burgeoning international concert career.  He studied piano in Russia at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, and then pursued organ studies at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Stuttgart.  He's released two commercial recordings, one of which was made at the Duomo in Milan (where I lived for six years and, sadly, never once heard the organ).
His program includes two of his own transcriptions for organ of virtuosic piano etudes by Franz Liszt, plus Saint-Saens' dramatic "Danse macabre," the D-major Prelude and Fugue BWV 532 by J.S. Bach, the Franck Piece heroique, and the Sonata on the 94th Psalsm by Julius Reubke as the major, closing work.  Spivey Hall's organist-in-residence Richard Morris leads a pre-concert talk with Raul Prieto at 2 PM. 
I expect a very lively, rewarding afternoon of music from this gifted organist and our very own "King of Instruments" -- the magnificent Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ that is the crowning glory of Spivey Hall.


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