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ReJOYCE - The Best of Joyce DiDonato
Joyce DiDonato (mezzo)
various orchestras and conductors as shown
rec. no dates or locations given
Track-Listing at end of review
WARNER ERATO 9341212 [77.00 + 77.15]

One of the consequences of the rationalisation in the recording industry, now largely in three or four big hands, is to be found in this collection. Whereas in the days of LP each relatively small, by today’s standards, recording company had its roster of contracted artists who were often kept strictly in-house. If one were allowed to stray, a quid pro quo was often the cost.
In the case of Joyce DiDonato (b.1969) she seems to have worked extensively for Erato, now part of the Warner empire, where her recordings for Virgin and EMI have also ended. As yet, it seems that Warner, in putting out this very welcome collection to celebrate her first ten years with the Erato/Warner Classics, are not up to pace with the details of her EMI and Virgin recordings. A web search enables me to provide details not available in the leaflet accompanying the collection - see end of review. The outcome of all this is a very varied collection showing something of the singer’s current strengths as well as her vocal evolution as caught on record.
The first CD is largely of baroque arias accompanied by period instrument bands. The selection is esoteric, even eclectic, ranging well beyond the norm of Handel, Monteverdi and Vivaldi. Names such as Orlandini, Giocomelli and Porta are featured, the latter two with sizeable arias. Porta in particular was one of the greatest opera composers of his time. Born in Venice he travelled in Italy, eventually making his way to London where his opera Numitore was performed in 1720, before returning to his birthplace. Giocomelli was born in Picenza and became Kapellmeister to the Duke of Parma. Between 1724 and 1740 he became a popular composer of opera, composing nineteen works. All these works, rare or more common, are particularly revealing of DiDonato’s artistry with period instruments pitched at somewhere below the standard A=440 of today. The outcome is that we are able to hear her rich lower tones and expressive nuances.
The experience of Joyce DiDonato’s singing of the early Baroque era is significantly special for those more used to her in the bel canto repertoire. Examples of the latter are found on the second disc of this generous collection of thirty-one tracks. Many readers may have heard her in 2013 live transmissions from New York’s Metropolitan Opera in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda,where her acting and singing were spectacular. What we heard there was described to me by an eminent critic as “the performance of the season.” Likewise thrilling is her singing in Rossini’s La Donna del Lago,transmitted live from London’s Covent Garden alongside Juan Diego Florez and Colin Lee. The compilation includes the concluding rondo Tanti affetti in tal momento. Fra il padre, e fra l'amante where Elena expresses her emotions and sings of her thanks for the saving of her father (CD2 tr.7). Spectacular vocalisation and characterisation are to be found in her singing of two more well known Rossini favourites, Una voce poco fa from Il barbiere di Sivigliaand Nacqui all'affanno from La Cenerentola (CD2 trs. 3 and 9). She is scheduled to sing the latter in a live transmission from The Met in 2014.
Mozart links the two discs, including two items not previously issued on CD: Parto parto from La Clemenza di Tito and the short Aprite, pesto aprite (CD1 trs. 14 and 16). More interestingly perhaps, there’s the recitative and aria Mi Tradi from Don Giovanni (CD2 tr2), full of bite and venom as befits Donna Elvira’s situation.
Two areas of repertoire that I had not heard her in before are to be welcomed on the second disc. They are Amour, viens rendre à mon âme from Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, (tr.1)sung with real feeling andAscolta! Se Romeo t'uccise un figlio… tremenda ultrice spada from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (rr.2). The Bellini impresses greatly and I would love to hear more. Also on the second disc is more contemporary music including two extracts from Jake Heggies’ Dead Man Walking (trs.11 and 14), premiered in 2000. That opera has already had two complete recordings. The remaining popular pieces are trite sweetmeats that will please some.
Anybody who heard DiDonato at the Last Night of the BBC Proms or on live transmissions at the cinema will want this selection to better know her outstanding singing skills in more diverse repertoire.  

Robert J Farr 


CD 1
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Serse (1738) Frondi tenere... Ombra mai fu - Alan Curtis [3.00]
Crude furie degl'orridi abissi - Christophe Rousset/Les Talens Lyrique [3.43]
Teseo (1713) Moriro, ma vendicata - Christophe Rousset/Les Talens Lyrique [4.46]
Addio, mio caro bene - Patrizia Ciofi/Alan Curtis/Il Complesso Barocco [2.50]
Rodelinda (1725)Io t'abraccio - Patrizia Ciofi/Il Complesso Barocco [6.40]
Ariodante (1735) Scherza infida - Alan Curtis/Il Complesso Barocco [9.57]
Radamisto (1720) Vanne, sorella ingrata - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis 2.36]
Hercules (1745) Where shall I fly? - Christophe Rousset/Les Talens Lyrique [6.00]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
L'Incoronazione di poppea (1643) Addio, Roma - Le Concert d`Astrée [4.04]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Ercole su'l Termodonte (1723) Nonsaria pena la mia [2.32]
Giuseppe Maria ORLANDINI (1676-1760)
Berenice (1725) Col versar, barbaro, il sangue - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis [3.36]
Geminiano GIOCOMELLI (1692-1740)
Merope (1734) Sposa, son disprezzata - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis [8.47]
Giovanni PORTA (1675-1755)
Ifigenia in Aulide (1738) Madre diletta, abbracciami - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis [7.39]
MOZART (1756-1791)
La Clemenza di Tito Parto, parto - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon [6.09]
Le Nozze di Figaro
Voi che sapete - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon [2.52]
Aprite, presto aprite - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon [2.00]
CD 2
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Orphée et Eurydice (1774) Amour, viens rendre à mon âme - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon [5.00]
MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni (1787) In quali eccessi, o numi... Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata - Yannick Nézet-Séguin - Mahler Chamber Orchestra [6.10]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816) Una voce poco fa - Orchestra dell' Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Edoardo Müller [6.01]
Maometto II (1820) Giusto ciel, in tal periglio - Orchestra dell' Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Edoardo Müller [3.33]
Stabat Mater (1841) Quis est homo - Anna Netrebko/Orchestra dell' Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano [6.21]
La donna del lago (1819) Tanti affetti in tal momento. Fra il padre, e fra l'amante - Edoardo Muller/Coro dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia [8.24]
La Cenerentola (1817) Nacqui all'affanno - Choeurs de l'Opéra National de Lyon [7.18]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
I Capuleti e i Montecchi, (1830) Ascolta! Se Romeo t'uccise un figlio … tremenda ultrice spada - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon/Kazushi Ono [7.11]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
La Damnation de Faust (1846) D'amour l'ardente flamme - Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon [8.08]
Richard STRAUSS (1864 -1949)
Ariadne auf Naxos (1916) Seien wir wieder gut - Nabil Suliman/Orchestre de l'Opéra
Jake HEGGIE (b. 1961)
Dead Man Walking You've been so good to him and all of us ... Who will walk with me? - Frederica von Stade/Patrick Summers [4.15]
He will gather us around, all around [1.24]
Carousel (1945) You'll Never Walk Alone - John Wilson/The John Wilson Orchestra [2.24]
The Sound of Music (1959) Climb Ev'ry Mountain - John Wilson/The John Wilson Orchestra [2.44]
The Wizard of Oz (1939) Somewhere over the rainbow - Kansas City Orchestra/Michael Stern [5.40]