Joyce DiDonato (maiden name Flaherty) 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 her 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.” Indeed, she can shift from Rossini's bravura arias to Schubert's pensive lieder in one evening without missing a beat, as she did at her 1998 Schwabacher debut recital in San Francisco. She "simply stood there - then opened her mouth and, seemingly without preparation, began to spin out a golden, utterly perfect melodic line. For those few minutes, time seemed to stop," raved the SF Chronicle music critic.
Joyce DiDonato has distinguished herself by winning many of the field’s most respected awards and honours.
In 1995, on completing an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera, she received the Outstanding Apprentice Artist award. Other awards and honors soon followed: Second Prize in the 1996 Eleanor McCollum Competition, district winner of the 1996 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the 1997 Sullivan Award, Second Prize in the 1998 Placido Domingo Operalia Competition, first place in the 1998 Stewart Awards, winner of the 1998 George London Competition, and a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, the ARIA Awards in 2000, the prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation Award in 2002 bestowed to a single American singer annually deemed poised for International stardom. In 2003 she was Recipient of New York City Opera's Richard Gold Debut Award, and in 2006 she got the the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award.
Past 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. She has also appeared with many of the leading orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (Les enfants et les sortileges), Cleveland Orchestra (Messiah), National Orchestra de Paris (Benvenuto Cellini), St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble (J.S. Bach's b minor Mass (BWV 232)), and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (Giovanna d’Arco by Rossini).
During 1999-2000 season, she sang Meg in Houston Grand Opera’s revival of Little Women, Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) at Santa Fe Opera and Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri) with the New Israeli Opera. She also gave a recital at New York’s Morgan Library under the auspices of the George London Foundation and joined the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah. During the 2000-2001 season, she made a triumphant debut at La Scala as Angelina in La Cenerentola. She sang Dorabella (Così fan tutte) at Houston Grand Opera and the J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass (BWV 232) with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson.
During 2002-2003 season, 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. In 2004-2005 season she 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.
This season (2005-2006) Joyce 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 USA and European recital tour accompanied by Julius Drake.
Joyce DiDonato recently completed a duets and arias recording of music by G.F. 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. She 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 Leonard Bernstein, as well as the Naxos recording of her signature role in La Cenerentola with legendary Rossini specialist Alberto Zedda.