Saturday, January 24, 2009

DiDonato takes Manhattan

I was planning to wait until after her Sunday program, but last night's all-Handel Joyce DiDonato concert at Zankel Hall (at Carnegie) demands a few words now.

The first half was impressive enough, with selections from Teseo (as, of course, Medea), Imeneo (not to be confused with Idomeneo...) and Serse (Xerxes) showing off her sometimes-thrilling vocal and expressive faculties. But the program's second half was from two operas she's sung complete on stage in recent years -- Ariodante and Hercules -- and on another level altogether. Any one of these arias -- "Scherza infida", "Cease ruler of the day to rise", and "Where shall I fly?" -- performed as here would have made for a notable evening, but all together... A great performance, and a great event. The endless and endlessly shaded agony of her Ariodante aria is still in my ears.

To close, two encores, in between some charming patter (DiDonato seems, incidentally, to be hosting this afternoon's Orfeo moviecast) and a sales pitch: "Ombra mai fu" (of course) and "Dopo notte", in this latter bopping her head a bit to the accompaniment while perhaps (as her introduction suggested) releasing all the strange and not-wholly-transformed energy accumulated at the close of a tour singing mad scenes.

I haven't yet heard the CD, but if it's a fraction as good you should buy it. But of course what we New Yorkers need is a full Ariodante...

UPDATE (2:15PM): If you don't already have it, J&R still has a bunch of discs at the implausibly low price of $8. Buy in person or online. At this price, buy two!

UPDATE 2 (1/25): Maury offers an analytical account of the event. Worth reading.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.