Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato (pictured left, photograph by Sheila Rock) is midway through a tour with Il Complesso Barocco. Their last stop in the United States is tonight at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University.
How did you get interested in opera?
I was studying Music Education in college, and could get a bit more scholarship money if I joined the opera, so I did. And I was hooked immediately. It was the marriage of everything I love: music, theater, emotion, physicality, intelligence. It requires everything that I am.
Your repertoire includes a lot of Baroque and Bel Canto roles. Is this different from working on new music like Dead Man Walking, or something like The Enchanted Island?
I don't actually see it as separate or different - to me it is all story telling. The structure is sometimes different, but the premise is the same. One thing I love about Baroque and Bel Canto roles, however, is the ability to ornament the vocal line, which provides a tremendous amount of freedom and liberation, allowing me to put a very individual stamp onto the role.
Was it stressful to be filmed in HD for the Met simulcast?
It was thrilling, but just a tad nerve-wracking, knowing that so many people are watching a live performance around the globe. However, the idea that opera can reach so many people at once far outweighs any nerves on my end. It is a tremendous undertaking!
How was singing in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi?
It is a role that I love deeply, for his youth, ardor, passion, and confusion ~ it is such a joy to play such extreme emotions. But it was also an absolute joy to play this piece with Nicole Cabell, who made a divine Giulietta. This is an opera that turns on the chemistry between to the two singers, and to find such a glorious singer and committed performer in Nicole was a real joy.
How did the CD Drama Queens come together?
I knew that I wanted to return to the Baroque world for my next disc, and the idea of the strong, powerful female prima donnas of that period really attracted me. They are larger than life, and I think brought out the very best in the composers who were inspired by the Royal ways. Without knowing which exact arias I wanted to sing, I started with the idea of the roles of Cleopatra and Octavia. At 3:00 am one night, I woke up out of a deep sleep thinking "DRAMA QUEENS" - and the idea was born.
What roles are you looking forward to most?
I'm very excited to revisit Maria Stuarda for the second time at the Metropolitan Opera this winter. The Met has never done the opera before, so it is a great privilege to bring this iconic role to such a storied theater for the first time.
Who do you look up to as far as musicians are concerned?
My greatest idol has always been Frederica von Stade - she is one of the greatest singers I know, who exudes buckets of generosity and sincerity on the stage, and has always been the model for how I have wished to build my career. Another favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald.
You are an amateur photographer. What camera do you use? What do you like to photograph?
I use a Canon and love to photograph whatever I see: landscape, architecture, candid shots, backstage - anything that falls into my line of sight!
How did you start blogging and tweeting?
When I first started my website I wanted it to include a kind of journal (this was before "blog" was even a word!) It has morphed into a real dialogue with my fans, which is something quite special.
What sort of yoga do you do?
I love Hatha and Ashtanga yoga.