Joyce DiDonato has claimed her place as one of the most compelling and committed performing artists of her generation. Critics have described her technique as “fearless” and lauded the depth of her interpretative smarts, which range from “playful eroticism to imploding self-delusion to near-catatonic depression.” This powerful combination of supreme musicality and interpretive resources has inspired conductors and producers to entrust Ms. DiDonato with new productions, ranging from a feisty Rosina for Paris Opera’s daring Il Barbiere di Siviglia to the haunting Dejanira for Luc Bondy’s celebrated Hercules. Whether singing La Cenerentola or Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking, Joyce DiDonato demonstrates the ability to breathe emotional life into the characters of her wide repertoire. As Opera Now reported following her Wigmore Hall recital debut, the “fusion of poised vocalism and open-hearted expression exemplified why Joyce DiDonato deserves a place of honour amongst today’s lyric mezzos.”
Joyce DiDonato has distinguished herself by winning many of the field’s most respected awards and honors, most notably the prestigious Richard Tucker Award (2002) bestowed to a single American singer annually deemed poised for International stardom, as well as awards from the George London Foundation, the ARIA Awards, the Plácido Domingo Operalia, and the Sullivan Foundation.
This season Ms. DiDonato makes her highly anticipated Metropolitan Opera New York debut as Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), returns to Covent Garden as Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) in Caurier and Leiser’s new production and sings her first Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito) at the Geneva Opera. Other highlights include the reprise of her highly acclaimed Dejanira (Hercules) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music New York and at the Barbican Centre in London with William Christie, concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and a recital at the Wigmore Hall in London. This season ends with her first Cendrillon for the Santa Fe Opera’s 50th Anniversary Season.
Looking further ahead to 2006/2007, she will sing the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos) at the Teatro Real Madrid, Idamante (Idomeneo) in a new production at the Paris Opera, Angelina (La Cenerentola) at Houston Grand Opera and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) at the Metropolitan Opera New York. She returns to the San Francisco Opera at the end of that season singing her first Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. She will also embark on a major US and European recital tour accompanied by Julius Drake.
Last season Ms. DiDonato sang Elisabetta (Maria Stuarda) to great acclaim at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, before returning to La Scala as Angelina (La Cenerentola). She then performed Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) in a new production by Luca Ronconi, conducted by Daniele Gatti at the Pesaro Festival which will be reprised this season at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
During 2002/2003, Joyce DiDonato was proclaimed “discovery of the season” with her debut at the Rossini Festival in the title role of Adina. She performed Dead Man Walking at New York City Opera (awarded the “Debut Artist of the Year“) and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) at the New National Theatre in Tokyo. Other engagements that season included Angelina (La Cenerentola) and Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) at the Paris Opera, her Royal Opera House Covent Garden debut as the Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen, and a tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Marc Minkowski.
Previous highlights include Dorabella (Così fan tutte) with both the Houston Grand and Washington Operas, Sesto (Giulio Cesare) at the Netherlands Opera conducted by Marc Minkowski, Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) at the Paris and San Francisco Operas, and her Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), conducted by Zubin Mehta. Also a major interpreter of modern opera, she debuted and recorded on disc the roles of Meg in the highly acclaimed Little Women by Mark Adamo, and of Katerina Maslova in the epic Resurrection by Tod Machover, both for Houston Grand Opera.
Joyce DiDonato has also appeared with many of the leading orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony (Les enfants et les sortileges), Cleveland Symphony (Messiah), National Orchestra de Paris (Benvenuto Cellini), St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra (Bach b minor Mass), and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (Giovanna d’Arco by Rossini).
Joyce DiDonato recently completed a duets and arias recording of music by Handel that has been celebrated by the critical press. Her extensive discography includes recordings of Resurrection, Little Women and contributions to the 9th and 10th volumes in the “Sacred Vivaldi” series with The King’s Consort. Ms. DiDonato also sang the title role in a new recording of Radamisto and participated in a recording of Benvenuto Cellini, both of these for Virgin records. Soon to be released is her much anticipated debut recital disc entitled “The Deepest Desire” which includes works by Copland, Heggie and Bernstein, as well as the Naxos recording of her signature role in La Cenerentola with legendary Rossini specialist Alberto Zedda.
The pianist Julius Drake who studied and lives in London, specialises in the field of chamber music and works with many of the world’s leading vocal and instrumental artists, both in recital and on disc.
He appears regularly at all the major music centres: in recent seasons concerts have taken him to the Edinburgh, Munich, Salzburg, Schubertiade, and Tanglewood Festivals; to the Lincoln Centre, New York; the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna; the Chatalet in Paris; the Wigmore Hall and the BBC Proms in London; and on recital tours to Australia, Japan and America.
Director of the Perth International Chamber Music Festival in Australia from 2000 – 2003 Julius Drake was also musical director in Deborah Warner’s staging of Janacek’s Diary of One who Vanished, touring to Munich, London, Dublin, Amsterdam and New York.
Julius Drake’s passionate interest in song has led to invitations to devise series for the Wigmore Hall, London ( Britten Songs, Schubert Songdiary, Songs of the Nineties) the BBC, (Complete Songs of Fauré) and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (Brahms Songs.)
Julius Drake gives regular masterclasses in Europe and the USA and in 2006 he has been invited onto the jury of The 15th Leeds International Piano Competition.
Among the many outstanding vocal artists he has partnered are Victoria de los Angeles, Sir Thomas Allen, Olaf Bär, Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Alice Coote, Hugues Cuenod, Gerald Finley, Matthias Goerne, Dame Felicity Lott, Wolfgang Holzmair, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Simon Keenlyside, Angelika Kirschschlager, Christopher Maltman, Edith Mathis, Thomas Quasthoff, Joan Rogers, Dorothea Röschmann, Rolando Villazon and Willard White
Julius Drake is also a frequent visitor to international chamber music festivals - in 2006 he will play at Kuhmo in Finland, West Cork in Ireland, and Delft in Holland – and instrumental collaborators include Christian Altenburger, Annette Bartholdi, Natalie Clein, Robert Cohen, Michael Collins, Brett Dean, Nicholas Daniel, Chen Halevi, Steven Isserlis, Ernst Kovacic, Henning Kraggerud, Priya Mitchell, Christian Poltera and Richard Watkins. His instrumental duo with Nicholas Daniel has been described in The Independent newspaper as “one of the most satisfying in British chamber music: vital, thoughtful and confirmed in musical integrity of the highest order.”
Recordings include French song with Cuenod (Chandos), French Sonatas with Daniel (Virgin), Britten song with Ragin (Etcetera), Haydn Canzonettas with Genz (Edel), Schumann Lieder with Daneman (EMI), Clarinet and Piano works with Johnson (ASV), Gurney songs with Agnew (Hyperion), Sibelius songs with Karneus (Hyperion), Shostakovitch sonatas with Bartholdy (Naxos) and Haydn, Schumann and Mahler with Coote (EMI). His award winning recordings with Ian Bostridge on EMI (including Gramophone Award and Edison Award) include Schumann Lieder, two volumes of Schubert Lieder, Henze’s Songs from the Arabian, Britten Canticles (also with Daniels and Maltman) and The English Songbook.
Recent and forthcoming discs include Mahler, Schumann and Haydn with Alice Coote (EMI), Songs of Charles Ives and Songs of Samuel Barber with Gerald Finley (Hyperion), French song with Lynne Dawson (Edel), Cello Sonatas with Christian Poltera (Bis) and Fauré, Poulenc and Debussy with Ian Bostridge and the Belcea Quartet (EMI).
In 2005/6 Julius Drake will host a series of concerts – Julius Drake and Friends - at Middle Temple Hall London, to include recitals with Sir Thomas Allen, Olaf Baer, Ian Bostridge, Christopher Maltman and Joan Rodgers. Other highlights of the season include concerts throughout Europe and America with Ian Bostridge; piano quintet concerts with the Belcea, Maggini and Szymanowski quartets; a tour of the USA with Mathew Pollenzani; concerts at the Schubertiade Festival and La Scala Milan with Michael Schade; a return visit to the Kuhmo International Chamber Music Festival in Finland; recitals in London and New York with Alice Coote; in Vienna with Rolando Villazon; in Denmark with Angelika Kirchschlager; in London and Strasbourg with Gerald Finley; in Amsterdam with Christianne Stotijn and Mark Padmore; and Carnegie Hall, New York with Dorothea Röschmann and Ian Bostridge.