Vibre, mon âme, chante et proclame, chante ta joie!
Yet again, I had the pleasure of spending an unforgettable opera evening. When we did Otello last season I wondered what would make someone go to see a concertante performance of opera. Well, there’s at least one answer I can give now: a most ravishing Joyce DiDonato!
Donna Leon presented Handel’s Ariodante in Baden-Baden on Friday, introducing to the performance of Joyce DiDonato singing the title role, accompanied by Alan Curtis’ Il Complesso Barocco. A slip of the tongue of Donna Leon became my program for the evening: she talked of “unlimited Joyce” instead of “unlimited joy”.
Interestingly, she compared the plot of Ariodante with that of Othello: the bad guy plays a trick on the good guy to make him believe his fiancé was unfaithful in order to gain the fiancé and the good guy’s all other comforts. Without examining the evidence, Othello decides to act: in an endless shouting of “Il fazzoletto!” he stabs the unfaithful. Ariodante doesn’t care about evidence either. But he chooses his own death, even though not successfully. Thus, the audience is sent home with a reconciling happy ending.
It takes Handel a lot of music to work out this plot, thereby giving a lot of room to discover the beauty of his music, if one had been skeptical about it before. And the musicians took their chance to enchant the audience.
I could not let my ears and eyes from the evening’s “hot mezzo in pants” Joyce DiDonato, whose portrayal of Ariodante went right into the heart. I wanted to stop the course of time when I saw this beyond-my-mind-voice unfolding its warm magic ten meters in front of me (and not in some technical appliance). And I now know: a concertante performance doesn’t have to be any less credible, after not only hearing Ariodante’s unlimited joy, his despair, and his relieve, but also seeing it in DiDonato face and body.
After the performance I followed DiDonato’s advice to catch her at the stage door for an autograph and I met a most cordial person who didn’t stop to share her gorgeous smile. In full excitement and gratitude I tried to control the shutter release of my camera and even though I didn’t use that feature I am sure: the automatic-release-when-detecting-a-smile-function of my camera was developed for persons like Joyce!
Maybe it’s worth to re-explore the thought of Der Rosenkavalier in Milano in October… Donations very welcome! 😉