|Joyce and colleagues taking a bow|
But yesterday we went to hear the great Joyce DiDonato at the Barbican in her In War and Peace recital which was probably the finest singing recital I have ever been privileged to attend. This is really the album tour, since she has recorded these with the outstanding period-instrument orchestra Il Pomo d'Oro.
As you will see from the photo (apologies for low quality, we had seats quite far back and it's only an iPhone) there was a considerable element of staging, and in fact there was a fine dancer (Manuel Palazzo) who also performed during many of the numbers, without in any way detracting from the transcendent music.
Handel was the dominant composer and we opened with "scenes of horror, scenes of woe" from Jephtha. Then two rarities: "Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro!" from Leonardo Leo's Andromaca and the orchestral Sinfonia from Representatione di anime a di corpo by Emilo de'Cavalieri - composed in 1600. Then "When I am laid to rest" from Dido and Aeneas - transcendently powerful and poignant! Can anything follow that? Well after an aria from Handel's Agrippina and an orchestral arrangement of Gesualdo's 'Tristis est anima mea' we found out. 'Lascia ch'io pianga' from Handel's Rinaldo. I cannot imagine a finer performance. Heartbreakingly beautiful!
After the interval the mood lightened. 'They tell us that you mighty powers' from Purcell's unfinished The Indian Queen was followed by 'Crystal streams in murmers flowing' from Handel's Susanna. "Da tempeste il legno infranto" from Handel's Giulio Cesare has Cleoparta rejoicing at her deliverance - Joyce at her most triumphant.
Then to the 20th Century for an orchestration of Arvo Part's Da pacem, Domine.the remarkable 'Augelleti, che cantate' from his Rinaldo where one of the 2nd violins (Anna Fusek) took up the sopranino recorder to be birdsong. Apparently during performances in 1711 real sparrows were released into the theatre each night during the aria to enhance the effect! Then Jommelli's 'Par che di giubilo' - a wonderful celebration which the did again, in part, as an encore.
Finally, after a moving speech from Joyce, she gave us a song of hope: Morgen! by Richard Strauss. What an evening!
I had a filthy cold so didn't go backstage but sent a bottle of champagne and our best wishes.