Sunday, March 22, 2015

Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall

Laura Claycomb, Joyce and Lawrence Brownlee
To Carnegie Hall on Weds for the final concert curated by the great Joyce DiDonato - a celebration of Bel Canto. I would travel a long way to hear Joyce but it was Joyce and Nicole (Cabell) and this is well worth a 3,000 mile flight - esp when it can be combined with business engagements.

Alas Nicole developed a horrible cold and had to pull out at two days notice. Her place was gamely taken by Laura Claycomb.
Joyce was, as ususal, beyond brilliant. And because it was a curated concert she was able to perform some rarities. I had never come across Michele Carafa or indeed  Giovanni Pacini - the latter described in his Wikipedia article as "largely forgotten today" and the former has only one notable opera from the 29 he wrote.  But the numbers Joyce performed from Le nozze di Lammermoor were crackers, and as for Ove t'aggiri, o barbaro from Pacini's Stella di Napoli - it was one of the most thrilling and compelling singing performances I have ever witnessed, and brought the house down.

Between these rarities we had three numbers from L'elisier d'Amore which is one of Nicole's great roles - I heard her in Barcelona - Lawrence was excellent and Laura did very creditably given the extremely short notice.

In the second half we had three numbers from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi and when Laura was opposite Joyce's Romeo things caught fire and it was thrilling. I believe singing with Joyce is like acting with Judi Dench - everyone raises their game a notch and a half because you are performing with someone so amazingly talented and so amazingly nice. The billed concert concluded with Lawrence singing two numbers from Donizetti's La favorite and Joyce doing the triumphant final aria from Rossini's Zelmira.

After a gracious speech from Joyce in which she thanked the excellent Philadelphia Orchestra and Maurizio Benini we were then treated to an encore which (I discovered afterwards) was from Le Compte Ory. Ory has entered the bedchamber of his intended conquest at night but her page is there too and whilst he thinks he is embracing his conquest he is embracing the page. This was brilliantly sung and nicely acted - it's an obscure opera and I don't think many of the audience would have known it but it was wildly appreciated and rightly so!

Get well soon Nicole!
Joyce had very kindly put my guests and I on her backstage list but there was only time to say hi briefly and Joyce took another selfie, mainly so that we could send it to Nicole as a get well soon card. I was also able to congratulate Lawrence and Laura. A delightful evening.

Joyce is coming to Europe and will be singing in London on April 14 and 17. Maddeningly I can't be at either concert, but catch her if you can. She is beyond brilliant!

And concert organizers - get Nicole over to London again ASAP!

PS Laura emails saying that the concert is currently available to listen to here.

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