I've had the pleasure of diving into the world of opera in 2019. While I am still in my infancy stages as a reviewer, I have been looking forward to each operatic event with much enthusiasm.
Arguably the greatest mezzo-soprano performing today, Joyce DiDonato kicked off her "Songplay" tour at the prestigious Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA on Monday evening. "Songplay" is her newest recording - which is a departure from the opera and classical works and a revisiting of Italian art songs as well as new interpretations of jazz classics and tunes from the great American songbook.
Working with Craig Terry (piano and arranger), Joyce DiDonato started her program with "Caro Mio Ben". The first notes of her voice carried throughout the hall like an angel - with the grand piano notes accompanying her as she performed at a level few ever reach.
As the show continued, other world-class musicians were introduced to the stage. Chuck Israels on double bass, Jimmy Madison on percussion, Charlie Porter on trumpet, and Lautaro Greco on bandoneon.
Being a musician myself, it came as no surprise that the musicians playing with Ms. DiDonato were absolutely stellar. Each a heavyweight in their own right, when all of them performed together with Ms. DiDonato, it was simply breathtaking.
The program shifted back and forth between Italian art classics to pieces by Duke Ellington and Leon Walker, to name but a few.
The main set ended with, "With A Song In My Heart" in which Joyce DiDonato and the band exited to a standing ovation.
They returned to perform a one-two song encore starting with a Vivaldi piece. The show came to a final end with a beautiful rendition of, "La Vie en Rose". Another well deserved standing ovation and Ms. DiDonato exited the stage as the band performed a few more bars of the song to end the evening.
The entire performance was a master class in musical excellence. Any musician in the audience would agree. I found myself mesmerized by Joyce's vocal prowess and, at times, hoped to hear the band stop for a few bars so that her solo voice would be front and center.
Having never heard Joyce DiDonato perform live, my first experience was one of awe and admiration. Her reputation as one of the finest vocalists of our time is well deserved. And the musicians that accompanied her last night were just a marvel to watch and listen to.
The "Songplay" series of shows hits six more cities throughout the U.S. (Berkeley, St. Paul, Oberlin, Boston, New York, and Princeton). If you are anywhere near these cities, your mission is clear. Attend one of the events and prepare yourself for the ever so fortunate opportunity to hear Joyce DiDonato perform "Songplay" live. You're welcome.
Until Next Time,
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