Tag Archives: Joyce DiDonato


Joyce DiDonato on the last scene of the Wernicke production of Der Rosenkavalier: Octavian and Sophie lie on the floor holding their silver rose in their hands. »After the final duet, the ›Mohammad‹ takes the silver rose from the two new young lovers and replaces it with a single red rose. It kills me, because the silver rose is beautiful and will last forever, but it’s dead. The red rose, also beautiful, is LIVING, but will not last forever … bittersweet, ja ja …«


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Magic for a Mezzophilic

Never before I had been to Schwetzingen. I’ve played soccer matches in about every village around Schwetzingen but somehow I never made the 20 km from my home town to that beautiful castle and park. Otto von Bismarck was an honorary citizen of Schwetzingen. And now the great Joyce DiDonato honored the town with a concert, just as 7-year-old Mozart did 250 years ago.

Joyce DiDonato sang a recital, “Songs of Venice”, as part of the SWR Festspiele (Tue, 14/8/12 at 13h05 on radio transmission SWR2 – they even offer a free radio recorder!!).
I was very surprised and joyful that she would come to that little theater – I mean Schwetzingen is not Berlin, Munic, Paris, or London… but Joyce made a very good point reminding us that public support for culture is something very special in our country! Mandatory radio and television license fees is a very difficult topic here, but for a moment I was really proud that SWR made this concert possible.
And I agree: without culture, the human being suffocates.

The theater in Schwetzingen is a beautiful cute one. Even a bit smaller than Giessen, but creating a much nicer atmosphere. When the hall darkened and Joyce came on stage with her pianist David Zobel, you could almost mistake it for a luxurious living room. And then you had a Stern sparkling in that living room.


I am speaking for myself, since I learned these days that it is a most personal thing what music makes you feel. Whether your soul inspires the music you make or the music you hear inspires your soul, it creates an absolutely unique sentiment, a kind of magic. Me, I definitely fall for the lyric and coloratura mezzo. In general. There’s a long list of evidence. But this mezzo is special!

The whole evening I had an image in mind. The playbill wrote about Joyce: a mezzo cast in milk chocolate (Eine Stimme wie in Milchschokolade gegossen). There is no way to imagine something as non-corporeal as a voice in milk chocolate. But hearing and feeling Joyce sing makes this image alive with the most delicous milk chocolate imaginable!
At some points I felt like she placed littles pearls of sentiments in the body, in the head, the shoulders, the stomach, and at a given point she let them explode – with a most gentle piano, a note in a thousand colors, or a mesmerizing coloratura. Only the intellect remains unregarded, it cannot help but enojy the magic.

After Joyce drew a beautiful picture of Venice, she left with Non piu mesta from La Cenerentola and Somewhere over the Rainbow. I lost my breath with the Rossini. As for the long high (and also not so high) notes, it felt like standing on a sandbank in a beautiful ocean scenery, feeling a giant wave approaching, being carried away by it (we’re sill on the same note!) and taken home on a anything-can-happen-ride. Awesome. Period.

Looking forward to the Drama Queens!

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Filed under Chantez, chantez!, En route, Hot Mezzos in Dresses, Teatro

Milano impressions II

Today it’s buildings and an amazing woman: Photos of churches, gallery, stations, castello, theater, statues, and Joyce DiDonato in Milano last October. The full photo album is available here. here or via the not-sooo-fancy slide show below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

On youtube I found a recording of the Der Rosenkavalier production we went to see in La Scala. This is the moment when I could’t help but cry…

Looking at the production photos, I will keep dreaming of being invited to Der Rosenkavalier on day..

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Ode to Joyce

In German, we can use the same word for tall and great – groß.
I once sat at a table with a tall priest. There wasn’t a lot of space and when he tried to get up someone said “yeah, it’s a bit uncomfortable for someone who is groß”. He answered: “I am not a große person, I am only tall”.

Yesterday, I stood next to Joyce DiDonato and I was surprised that she is by far not as tall as she appears on stage. Still, she is groß, a truly great person!

It seems quite odd: going to Italy to see a German opera. Going to see an American walking through the jungle of German s, sch, ch, and ig sounds. But I didn’t choose by language. I chose by heart.

I was thrilled by Der Rosenkavalier (or enflammiert, as Baron Ochs would say) and I admire Joyce DiDonato, so I could either wait for her to come to Giessen (well… Gwyneth Jones cancelled Der Besuch der Alten Dame only six weeks before opening night this year…) or go where I can see the great lady disguised as the young boy.

Fate dictated we had to go to La Scala.

I would say that even our cute little theater here looks more spectacular from the outside than La Scala. Plain stone walls from the outside, small, no foyer full of pomp, narrow corridors. As we still wondered about the underwhelming simplicity of the place, we entered the auditorium. First thought: there cannot be this much space in this building! But ultimately, all the red velvet plush seats, the big circle of boxes and galleries on six floors, the huge curtain, all the gold and red, all this space that would be occupied by sonar waves where ostentatious enough to be overwhelming.

The stage design worked with a lot of mirrors, creating a brilliant palais (and bedroom and park) full of genuine little optical surprises. [Production Photos]

Joyce DiDonato as Octavian, could there been anything more delightful? Her Octavian wasn’t as “dual” as one might expect a pant role to be (as for the gender aspect – but I think that was solely due to too tight pants!), but she played it no less convincing, no less beautiful, no less heart-melting. It felt like I had to drown in Octavian’s emotions. And could there have been a cuter Mariandel? Thumbs up for the “Wiener Schmäh”, I loved it!

For the presentation of the rose, dressed in a white tail-code, Octavian descended a staircase, full of dignity and magic. One of the most beautiful moments of the whole opera, I almost cried. I did cry in the end, Octavian and Sophie finally dared to follow their heart and no one else stopped them (I mean, what are the odds of that happening in opera?). I love the gender play in this opera, but ultimately I didn’t care – there is a higher truth in a soprano and a mezzo (ahh… and this mezzo!!!!) singing this duet:

Spür’ nur dich, spür’ nur dich allein und dass wir beieinander sein! Geht all’s sonst wie ein Traum dahin vor meinem Sinn!
Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein, dass wir zwei beieinander sein, beieinand’ für alle Zeit und Ewigkeit!

It is about a feeling that goes beyond gender constructions right into the heart. Again, no words.

So, the evening was great, “great and strange”. Strange, because as soon as the curtain had fallen, people started running out of the theater. In general, the audience didn’t seem very emotional, but leaving before the curtain call? Yeah, there we felt special again – young, enchanted, trying to absorb the magic of every second in this theater with some of the world’s greatest artist on stage who deserved credit for their fantastic show.

Next post more on why people go to the opera – or don’t.As for absorbing the magic: Of course we had inspected the building for the stage entrance and concluded our La Scala experience with a most cordial meeting with a not tall but great person.Finally someone who understands the protocol of test shots! (Auto-focus was in celebrity shock)

Ah, thanks to modern technical appliances, this can be the work of a one-handed, confused photographer shivering in excitement.


Filed under Chantez, chantez!, Hot Mezzos in Pants, Teatro

White shirts

A break cannot be caught. Yesterday, I had a look at my rss feed reader and in the first article displayed, a question was proposed: What’s the No. 1 opera that allows a White Shirt mezzo to have their hands all over generally not just one, but two sopranos?

The Giessen production of Figaro provides a similar scene: Cherubino in a white shirt with rolled-up sleves.

The same we had with Ariodante in Baden-Baden:

What is it about the white shirts and rolled up sleeves? I’m curious about how they will dress Joyce as Octavian. And I will find out in less than two weeks!!

(@Aniklachev: feel free to post this picture if you like!)

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Unlimited joy and Joyce!

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!

Look at the hair! 😀

Maybe it’s worth to re-explore the thought of Der Rosenkavalier in Milano in October… Donations very welcome! 😉


Filed under Chantez, chantez!, Hot Mezzos in Pants, Photography, Teatro


This afternoon I was amused by a question stated in a blog post (“Intermezzo” – what a lovely pun!):

What’s the difference between Joyce DiDonato and Katherine Jenkins? Apart from obvious stuff like one can sing Una voce poco fa and one can’t, that is?

After seeing the videos, this was even obvious to me… (and yes, I know, I couldn’t do any better, but that’s why I go to the cellar for Una voce and not on youtube…)

Just like DiDonato singing Una voce, I love the title of her latest recording – Diva~Divo. While googling Ruggiero and Cherubino I came across another blog where the Diva~Divo theme is put into lovely category titles (and I admit my plagiarism on that):

Hot mezzos in pants  |  Hot mezzos in skirts

And Anik LaChev, the blogger, proves that dispite all privacy concerns, there are good reasons to enable google search for blogs – great examination of the “gay google treatment” for opera singers! More of this you can find in episode 2 and the latest analysis.

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