19 August, 2010

Artist Interview: Joyce DiDonato

We spoke to Mezzo soprano, Joyce DiDonato, ahead of her two performances at the Edinburgh International Festival 2010, Idomeneo and a recital with pianist David Zobel at the Usher Hall.

What is the most challenging piece that you will be performing at this year’s Festival?

The role of Idamante is incredibly challenging! The opening aria is an incredible challenge to sing because the vocal range sits quite high without much of a rest at all, not to mention that it is super emotionally charged! After that, the entire recital program I'll sing on Sunday is challenging, but SUCH a joy to sing!

The Italian language features heavily in your repertoire, is this your preferred language to sing in?

I speak Italian relatively well, so it's a language I'm quite comfortable in - I can play with the words as if I were speaking English, and that's a very powerful tool as an artist. But I do love French as well - the smoothness and expressiveness of that language is very special. If I HAD to choose, yes, it would be Italian, I suppose.

You have had the opportunity to perform all the over the world, are there any cities or venues that hold a special place in your heart?

London has been very good to me, as has Paris and many of the US venues. It's too difficult to narrow it down because I find such special qualities about all the cities I visit. I'm enjoying Edinburgh tremendously, and after the patience the audience showed me last year with the lights going out before we could even get started, it just may well become an absolute favourite of mine!

Of all the people you’ve worked with, who has influenced you most as a performer?

Well, I have to say that working with the late, but oh-so-great Sir Charles Mackerras left an enduring, deep impression on me. I will miss singing with him very, very much. But I learn from so many people - the good colleagues, as well as the bad, and at the top of the list must be Frederica von Stade. Her unbridled generosity, simple sincerity and utter honesty as a performer continue to inspire me greatly and she serves as a unique role model to me in so many ways.

Do you have an all-time favourite role?

NO! And please don't make me choose! I love them all - almost without exception. I get to work with the greatest masters of history: Mozart, Bellini, Strauss, Handel, Bach, etc and they each provide an incredible platform for discovery and depth, that I revel each character I get to sing!

Are there any orchestras that you would like to get the chance to work with in the future?

I have had so much good fortune so far - the only thing missing is some repeat performances with groups like the London Phil, London Symphony Orch, NY Phil, The OAE - so many great ones that I've only sung with once. I'd love the chance to get to deepen my relationship with them.

How will you relax after your Festival performances?

After 5 months on the road here in Europe, my husband and I plan a short vacation to California to stay at a heavenly spa in Big Sur, and THEN TWO WEEKS AT HOME, TOGETHER! That is the real vacation!!!

You can read Joyce DiDonato's own blog here.

Find out more about Joyce DiDonato's recital here.

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