Artist Profile: Mezzo Joyce DiDonato, A Modern Superstar

By David Salazar

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is a true American superstar.

Born on Feb. 13, 1969 in Prairie Village, Kansas, the mezzo initially headed to Wichita State University to study vocal education. However, she became more interested in singing and performing and upon graduating in 1992, she headed the Academy of Vocal Arts which she followed up with enrollment in the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Singe program. In 1996, she became part of the Houston Grand Opera’s young artist program and in 1997, she participated in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.

During that time she won a number of major vocal competitions. Her professional career started at regional companies during the 1998-99 season and she slowly worked her way up, making debuts in smaller roles. In 2000-01, she debuted at La Scala in “La Cenerentola” and throughout the 2001-02 season she was making debuts in stronger roles.

In sum, she would appear at the De Nederlandse Opera, the Washington National Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Royal Opera House, New National Theatre Tokyo, Rossini Opera Festival, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera.

The mezzo-soprano has become a major fixture around the world, continuing to perform at many of these renowned theaters, all in leading roles.

She has garnered a plethora of awards, including numerous Grammys, Gramophone Awards, the 2002 Richard Tucker Award, the ECHO Klassik Award for Best Female Singer (multiple times), an Olivier Award, and a number of Honorary Doctorates.

She has recorded extensively for such companies as EMI and Erato.

Signature Roles

DiDonato’s early career saw her dominate baroque and bel canto repertory. She became a major interpreter of Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and “La Cenerentola” though years later she would take on “Semiramide.” She also became a major interpreter of French repertory with Massenet’s “Cendrillon” becoming a calling card for many years.

The mezzo-soprano also championed many modern works, particularly Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking.”

Read More on DiDonato

Q & A With The Mezzo on Working With the Philadelphia Orchestra

Watch and Listen

Here are some of her hit albums.

Here is a masterclass she led.

And here is a performance of “La Cenerentola.”


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