Artist Of The Week: Joyce DiDonato Conquers Rossini’s ‘Semiramide’

By Francisco Salazar

For years Joyce DiDonato has been a master in the Bel Canto repertoire singing Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. Her vocal flexibility and nuance has brought new musical insights to some of this neglected repertoire, her approach often innovative. This week DiDonato took on the role of Rossini’s “Semiramide” for the first time at the Bayerische Staatsoper and after listening to the premiere it looks like DiDonato has conquered the difficult role.

DiDonato is perhaps the least likely choice for a role sung traditionally by Coloratura sopranos, but the American singers has never tied herself down to tradition. DiDonato has already conquered two traditional soprano roles – “Maria Stuarda” and “La Donna del Lago.” The results have been positive as audiences and critics have cheered her on. Critics have raved about her delicacy with the music and  her vocal fireworks.

And with Semiramide the response was incredibly rich on opening night. DiDonato commanded the stage with her incredible acting and her vocal purity as she sang through the difficult coloratura line that Rossini wrote for the role.

Like with “La Donna del Lago and “Maria Stuarda” this will be a role that audiences will likely see DiDonato performing with more frequency after winning much acclaim. With the Bayerische Staatsoper she will perform it six times in the winter before returning to it for two performances in the summer.

The debut of “Semiramide” also coincides with her role debut as Didon in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens” in April. These two roles signal a new step in DiDonato’s career as she slowly moves into heavier lyric repertoire and continues to deepen her exploration in French and Italian opera. She is also scheduled to tour the role of “Ariodante” in concert as she also furthers her work in the baroque repertoire.

DiDonato has sung at all the major operatic houses. She has been featured numerous times on the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series and has released an extensive collection of CDs and DVDs that include complete operas as well as solo albums.

DiDonato has been an ambassador for enhancing opera’s audience as she has been an active presence on social media. She is also one of the few opera singers who has performed at a baseball game and was recently cast as Florence Foster Jenkins in a new documentary. DiDonato also performed at the Stonewall Inn in support of the LGBT community. DiDonato is a multiple Grammy winner and has obtained Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards. She has also won three German Echo Klassik Awards as Female Singer of the Year, and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.

Also worthy of note – DiDonato’s birthday is on Feb. 13. 


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