Multi Grammy Award winner and 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Kansas-born Joyce DiDonato entrances audiences across the globe, and has been proclaimed “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation” by the New Yorker. With a voice “nothing less than 24-carat gold” according to the Times, Joyce has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and a fierce advocate for the arts, gaining international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging, acclaimed discography. She is also widely acclaimed for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti. - taken from Joyce’s biography on joycedidonato.com
Joyce has always been an inspiration for me vocally. Despite being a different voice type from me, her views on singing what feels good has always resonated with me (pun intended). As a mezzo-soprano, Joyce has sung quite a few roles that sopranos normally sing. One of her most famous recordings is her music video for Lascia chio pianga from Rinaldo by Handel. Her recordings have been nominated multiple times for Grammys, and her album In War and Peace - Harmony through Music includes this aria.
Una voce poco fa is another aria that can go back and forth between a mezzo or a soprano (though often in different keys). This Rossini aria from Il Barbiere di Siviglia is one of my favourite arias of all time. There is coloratura everywhere, and played with the right emotion and character it can be one of the most thrilling pieces of music to listen to.
Note: the conductor in this performance is Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera. Yannick is from Montreal!
Speaking of the Met... Joyce has graced this New York stage countless times, especially for singing the role of Cinderella in another Rossini opera La Cenerentola. This is only a clip from the aria Non più mesta, but it is still capable of giving me goosebumps!
On top of all her operatic appearances, Joyce has also dabbled in musical theatre. Here she is performing Over the Rainbow composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg for the movie The Wizard of Oz. As a Kansas native, you can see the honesty in her performance. It brings me to tears!
Warning: the volume is quite loud in the beginning!
Now onto the pedagogical side of things. Joyce has never called herself a teacher, due to the fact that she has never trained as a teacher. What she does is use her own personal knowledge of her own voice and experiences, she listens to students and offers up that knowledge.
I am going to share both short and long clips from the Master Class from 2016. This is Suzannah Waddington. Her voice needs to be heard. I was in the room when this class took place and I can say that this was one of the most intense and emotional moments I have ever experienced in my life. I got to know Suzannah over the course of those 3 days, and I can say she is one of the most exceptional people I have ever met. This is a voice worth following.
This short clip of Joyce is during her 2016 master class at Carnegie Hall. Suzannah has just been singing her aria Non mi dir from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Joyce has been forcing Suzannah to keep eye contact with her while she sings this very emotional aria. What I love about this clip is that you can see the compassion and support Joyce has for her students. She is honest and kind. I obviously highly recommend you watch the entire clip, because in this short one you don’t actually hear Suzannah sing. But it’s a good speech none the less.
This is a great clip for learning about artistry.
This next clip is from Joyce’s Carnegie Hall Master Class from earlier that same year. If I ever feel in a schlump about practicing I turn this Master Class clip on. I find this so inspiring and a true reminder of what’s important in a practice session. Here is the short clip of Joyce working with soprano Amalia Avilan Castillo singing Donde lieta usci from La boheme by Puccini. You can find the long version (along with other extra videos of Joyce) on our YouTube playlist.
Congratulations if you’ve made it not only through this whole post, but through all the videos! Bonus points if you checked out the rest of the playlist on youtube! Joyce is clearly one of my favourite singers, and I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting her twice and seeing her perform live. She is such an incredible woman with all the performing she does while still doing the teaching and outreach that she does. This woman is pure kindness and I hope you have enjoyed getting a little taste of her music!
With that all said, here is one last clip. Grab your tissues and watch how invested Joyce is listening to the violinist in the introduction. Here is Morgen by Strauss.
See you all next month for another Singer Sunday!