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Joyce DiDonato Sings “Danny Boy” in Memorial Day Tribute

2021/22 Season Preview: EDEN with Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d’Oro

UMS will present our schedule for 2021/22 in-person performances on May 13! Each week until then, we will preview a new program.

This Earth Day, UMS proudly announces a visionary co-commission on themes of nature and the environment starring Joyce DiDonato.

Following her recital performance of Schubert’s Winterreise with pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin and as part of her UMS Digital Artist Residency during the 2020/21 season, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato turns her creative vision and artistry to her next great passion: EDEN.

Watch Joyce’s message about the new project (60 seconds):

Exploring the majesty, might, and mystery of Nature through both arresting and evocative music and theatrical effects, Joyce takes us on an emotional journey to reconnect to the power and fragility of Nature, exploring our place within the kaleidoscopic, wondrous world around us.

Joined by the original instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro and Maxim Emelyanychev, as well as the French stage director Marie Lambert, Joyce will perform a wide-ranging program cycling from Handel to Ives, Gluck to Mahler, inviting the audience to consider their own place in the world…and perhaps to even change it.

Date and time for EDEN will become available when the full 2021/22 season is announced in May.

About the Artists

Joyce DiDonato

A multiple Grammy-winner, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is a transformative presence in the arts whose healing approach to music has taken her beyond the world’s great opera stages to educational institutions, refugee camps, and maximum-security prisons. She has appeared on UMS concerts three times in the past several years, including in the lead role in Handel’s Ariodante, with pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Schubert’s Winterreise, and again with Nézet-Séguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal in November 2019. She is an exclusive recording artist with Erato-Warner Classics.

Il Pomo d’Oro

The ensemble il Pomo d’Oro was founded in 2012. It is characterized by an authentic, dynamic interpretation of operas and instrumental works from the Baroque and Classical period. The musicians are all well-known specialists and are among the best in the field of historical performance practice. The ensemble so far worked with the conductors Riccardo Minasi, Maxim Emelyanychev, Stefano Montanari, George Petrou, Enrico Onofri Francesco Corti and Antonello Manacorda. Concertmaster Zefira Valova leads the orchestra in various projects. Since 2016 Maxim Emelyanychev has been its chief conductor, and since 2019 Francesco Corti is principal guest conductor.

Marie Lambert

French director Marie Lambert as born in France and grew up in Paris and England. She studied literature in Paris and Bologna and directing at La Scala, Milan. Lambert has worked for dozens of opera houses throughout her career, including the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Festival, and Welsh National Opera in the UK, La Scala and the Maggio Musicale in Italy, as well as the major companies in Barcelona, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Chicago, San Francisco, Brussels, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and many other music capitals around the world.

Joyce DiDonato’s recent collaborative albums with Il Pomo d’Oro include In War & Peace — Harmony through Music (2016) and Handel: Agrippina (2020).

Listen on:

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Joyce DiDonato Sings “Silent Night”

“My hope is that in silence, we can find peace. And in that peace, we might be able to ignite some light and hope. Wishing you a deep sense of peace as we go into the New Year.” —JoyceDiDonato

Enjoy this very special arrangement of “Silent Night” performed by Joyce DiDonato and Àlex Garrobé. Joyce’s #SingForToday series is co-produced by UMS and Princeton University Concerts.

Joyce DiDonato Sings “This Land Is Your Land”

“The girl spoke of love…”

Joyce DiDonatoWritten by Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano

The word “masterpiece” appears often in my line of business, and while the majority of works I participate in unquestionably fall into that category, there still remains THE Masterpieces: those holy relics of unparalleled genius that have changed the course of the art form entirely. Winterreise is this singular, crowning achievement in song.

And yet, as much as I have always loved the great recital repertoire, it never once occurred to me to personally tackle this mammoth undertaking until, just over a year ago, when Yannick Nézet-Séguin approached me with the bold idea of performing Schubert’s masterful journey together. Naturally, I was compelled to give it great consideration: “But it must really speak to you”, he warned. “You must feel deeply called to enter into this world and live there for some time.”

And so naturally I dove in. Completely. And yet, diligent as I was, I couldn’t quite find my way into the protagonist’s world, despite the utterly compelling journey in front of me. It wasn’t a question of gender – I’m used to donning pants on the stage. No. Instead, a persistent question took hold of me and simply wouldn’t let go: “But what about her?” my heart kept asking.

In most writings about this cycle, authors gloss over her involvement dismissively: “We don’t know much about her,” the papers reveal, and the discussion promptly closes.
Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte with Vittorio Grigolo as Werther

Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte with Vittorio Grigolo as Werther in Werther, Royal Opera House. Photo by Bill Cooper

Perhaps it’s my identification with Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther that kept this question front and center in my mind. (I’ve always wondered what happens to her when the curtain comes down. Does she cave in to her passion and follow Werther into his fate of suicide? Does she obediently return to her life with Albert, dutifully, yet completely hollowed-out?)

This girl — this catalyst – that prompts our protagonist to flee his life, to embark on his pilgrimage of sorrow and despair, and to journey into oblivion presumably must know of his departure. She must feel it. She must surely wonder about him … after all, she “spoke of love”. Has she mourned his loss? Has she simply gone about her life as is expected of a girl of her stature? How has she moved forward in her life?

This lingering question provided no resolution in Müller’s poetry, and so I set out to create my own story: what if He sent His last journals to Her before he parted? A tormented and painful a scenario to face, what if His final words arrived to her as a kind of suicide note? What if He wanted Her to understand Him? To feel His pain? To experience His torment and despair? To force her to wander alongside Him? And what if She reads the writings? Word for word. Over and over. (“Ces lettres … ces lettres”, Charlotte screams out.)

What happens to the winter’s journey when we feel it through the heart of the one who was the impetus of such agony and despair? The survivor. The one left behind. What does a singular event look like through the differing eyes of two separate people, two separate perspectives? The lives that have entwined so closely cannot be separated or disregarded so easily.

Perhaps one element of a true masterpiece is that it invites itself to be experienced in new light.

So what about she who spoke of love? This can also be her journey …

Hear Joyce DiDonato and Yannick Nézet-Séguin perform Schubert’s Winterreise on Sunday, December 16.


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And finally, with the singular and exceptional Maestro @nezetseguin. There are no words to describe the power of sharing the stage with him and feeling how this #philorch PLAYS for him. Sounds and sensations I’ll never forget! Merçi milles fois, Maestro!! Thank you, Philly! It’s WONDERFUL to be back!! – @joycedidonato #DiDonatoTakeover #yourorchestra

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