MEZZO-SOPRANO JOYCE DIDONATO LAUNCHES CARNEGIE HALL PERSPECTIVES SERIES,
SINGING THE TITLE ROLE IN HANDEL’S ALCINA WITH
THE ENGLISH CONCERT AND HARRY BICKET ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26
The “Yankee Diva” Collaborates with Friends and Colleagues Throughout the Season, Including Pianist David Zobel, the Brentano String Quartet,
Composer Jake Heggie, Soprano Nicole Cabell, Tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and
The Philadelphia Orchestra with Conductor Maurizio Benini
Series Also Includes Participation in the Weill Music Institute’s Lullaby Project and
Count Me In Programs, and Series of Master Classes for Young Singers
This season, celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato curates a multi-part Carnegie Hall Perspectives series that showcases her vocal creativity and multifaceted talents, ranging from programs that include familiar and forgotten repertoire from the Baroque and bel canto eras to works by Jake Heggie written expressly for her. Her series kicks off on Sunday, October 26 at 2:00 p.m. as she sings the title role in a concert performance of Handel’s Alcina alongside Harry Bicket and The English Concert.
Ms. DiDonato returns on November 4 to perform a Venice-inspired recital with pianist David Zobel, featuring music that spans the Baroque to the 20th century. Ms. DiDonato’s Perspectives series moves to Zankel Hall on February 5 for a concert with the Brentano String Quartet to include the New York premiere of Camille Claudel: Into the Fire by composer Jake Heggie, a frequent collaborator. The program also includes the world premiere of MotherSongs, specially commissioned by Carnegie Hall and arranged by Mr. Heggie. MotherSongs features songs composed as part of the Lullaby Project, a series of songwriting workshops created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that provides young expectant and new mothers throughout New York City the opportunity to write a lullaby for their child. Ms. DiDonato completes her Perspectives series on March 18 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Maurizio Benini, singing both beloved and rare bel canto arias and ensembles with close colleagues soprano Nicole Cabell and tenor Lawrence Brownlee.
As part of her Perspectives, Ms. DiDonato also shares her gifts as a dynamic educator and passionate advocate for music by taking part in a number of education and community programs created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI). In addition to her work with WMI’s Lullaby Project, Ms. DiDonato will lead three master classes for young professional singers in Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing and streamed live online from February 21–23, and work with New York City middle school singers who take part in WMI’s Count Me In program.
In planning her programs, Ms. DiDonato shared, “Being asked to be a Perspectives artist for the season at Carnegie Hall is really overwhelming. I went through a lot of different ideas and possibilities, but at the end of the day, if it’s a Perspectives series, I want to offer a sense of my perspective as a musician and as an artist and as a woman. What are the things that interest me? What are the things, if I’m given a ticket to speak about something (even if I’m singing), that I want to put out there? I thought it was also important to show a representation of my life as an artist—the things that I’ve specialized in and the things that I’ve spent a little bit of time exploring as a singer.”
Further details on each concert are noted below. For more information on Joyce DiDonato’s Perspectives series, please visit carnegiehall.org/didonato. For a video interview with Ms. DiDonato, please click here.
October 26: Handel’s Alcina with Harry Bicket Leading The English Concert
Ms. DiDonato says, “This is a role that I recorded years ago; I sang it in concert but never performed it onstage. But I love it. Now, this has typically been a soprano role. It was sort of hijacked by these amazing artists. If you look at Alcina on paper, it fits me to a tee. I look at a role like that in the original key and I think, ‘This is something I can say something with.’ I bring my mezzo ornaments to it; I bring my mezzo coloring to it. For me, she can become a little bit more earthy. She’s a sorceress. She can become a little bit more pained. Rather than finding her power and potency by these high notes that aren’t necessarily in the style of the piece, we can find them by color in the middle voice and by sculpting the lines in a different way. The journey of Alcina, in particular, is something that I think is masterful. There are very few other opera composers that have crafted as psychologically astute a character as I find Alcina to be.”
November 4: A Journey Through Venice with Pianist David Zobel
On her recital program, Ms. DiDonato said, “One of (the works) is Venezia by Reynaldo Hahn. He not only wrote the music, but he debuted it. He got a little upright piano in a gondola and went out onto the gondola and played for himself and sang these six amazing Venetian songs. It’s meant to be shared; it’s meant to be enjoyed. I wish we could serve wine inside Stern Auditorium. I respect the platform of what the song recital is, but at the same time I want people to sit back and enjoy and be transformed and transfixed and transported during the night. Sometimes I’ll talk to the audience. Sometimes I like to explain why I chose these songs, why they’re important to me, what I love about them. But for me it really should be a gathering of friends and lovers of music. That’s something you don’t necessarily get on a concert stage, and you certainly don’t get that in an opera. That’s very much a ‘let us tell you the story,’ but this really should be a gathering for friends and people who breathe music.”
Feburary 5: MotherSongs and Heggie’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire with Brentano String Quartet
On Camille Claudel, Ms. DiDonato said, “She’s such an important person, one of the original feminists. She didn’t answer to anybody; she marched to her own drummer. She was a sculptor in the time of Rodin in Paris as a woman. Extraordinary. She demanded things for herself. You don’t do that in Paris in the late 1800s. It’s quite an extraordinary journey. Gene Scheer has written some extraordinary texts, and it’s one of the most moving projects I have ever been a part of. I am so thrilled that I get to have that be part of my season at Carnegie Hall.”
February 21–23: Public Master Classes for Young Professional Singers
In addition to Ms. DiDonato’s work with WMI on these master classes and in the Lullaby Project, she will also participate this season in WMI’s Count Me In program. This afterschool initiative meets the needs of New York City middle-school singers, many of whom have never studied music before and whose schools do not have established choral programs. In the fall, 8th grade students receive instruction and training to prepare them for auditions to performing arts high schools. In the spring, 6-8th grade students participate in an inclusive choral experience designed to build skills and stimulate their passion for music.
On working with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, Ms. DiDonato said, “Part of my ‘perspective’ comes from the idea of wanting to be an educator and a teacher. There’s this whole segment of society that would never dream that they would merit an experience with Carnegie Hall. Why? Because they’re in the cracks, they’re in the fringe. They’re a teenage mother. They’re on probation. If music isn’t for them, who is it for? I like the idea of shining a spotlight on what the Weill Music Institute is doing by reaching out to everyone. Carnegie Hall is the Holy Grail for musicians, but it can also mean something for everybody. Everybody has their thing that they need to aspire to. Carnegie Hall represents the best of humanity, and that needs to be available for everyone. I’m really happy to make that a part of my season.”
March 18: The Philadelphia Orchestra with Benini, Cabell, and Brownlee
“What I think is amazing is that we tend to think that bel canto music is quite simplistic,” Ms. DiDonato said. “It doesn’t feel like the most enlightened, especially because Wagner was right on their heels and turned the whole world upside down. But what I find, especially working with composers like Valentini and Carafa and Pacini, is there are an incredibly infinite number of possibilities to convey emotion simply through the melody of the voice, the line of the voice. Sometimes it feels a little superfluous; sometimes it does feel like this is just a chance to show the voice off, so we’re going to throw in some high staccatos, or we’re going to plunge from the top B-flat way down to a low G (two and a half octaves) in the space of one measure. It is Olympic in a way, and it is quite a way to show off the voice. But what I’m always looking for is to find out what the emotional relevance and truth might be to underline that. If we can identify that, this music I think penetrates the heart more than most. That’s the magic of bel canto. And it’s the magic of the voice.”
About the Artist
Carnegie Hall’s Perspectives
Previous Perspectives artists have included conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim; conductors Pierre Boulez, James Levine, Michael Tilson Thomas, and David Robertson; violinists Gidon Kremer and Christian Tetzlaff; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Leif Ove Andsnes, Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Maurizio Pollini, András Schiff, Peter Serkin, and Mitsuko Uchida; sopranos Dawn Upshaw and Renée Fleming; bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff; the Emerson String Quartet; the Kronos Quartet; early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata; Senegalese vocalist Youssou N’Dour; Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso; Indian classical tabla player Zakir Hussain; experimental rocker David Byrne; and singer/songwriter James Taylor.
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Alcina (concert performance)
Pre-concert talk starts at 1:00 PM in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage with Benjamin Sosland, The Juilliard School.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
A JOURNEY THROUGH VENICE
ANTONIO VIVALDI “Onde chiare che sussurrate” from Ercole su’l Termodonte, RV 710
Sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP
Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
MARC-ANTOINE CHARPENTIER Suite in D Minor
Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall: Joyce DiDonato, Jake Heggie, and Mark Steinberg of the Brentano Quartet in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning at Carnegie Hall.
This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A. E. Charitable Foundation.
Tickets: $59, $70
Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
Workshops and master classes are made possible, in part, by Mr. and Mrs. Nicola Bulgari and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
Sponsored by DeWitt Stern Group, Inc.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Image at top of release by Simon Pauly