Friday, June 11, 2010

The 411

Good SUNNY morning! After what feels like about 500 years of rain between my time in Geneva and here in Paris, le soleil has decided to make a celebrated appearance and show us those amazing Parisian Blue Skies today. I could not be happier.

It's also the day of the final dress rehearsal here in Paris, for "La Donna del Lago". It's always an exciting rehearsal - the adrenalin is pumping full force, nerves are running rampant, expectations are elevated and curiosity abounds as we wonder how the new show will be received. It's fascinatingly bizarre for me, because the designs for a new production are done years in advance, the massive sets and incredible costumes are built up, and it all comes down to a few hours on the stage in front of the hungry public, and instantly it is reviewed and scrutinized and applauded or booed (the latter of which we have already discussed here!)

I'm very curious to see what people's reactions will be to this production. It could not be further away from the Geneva production I recently participated in. In many ways, I see this production as a love letter to the days of "Grand Opera", with the stunning sets and spectacle, where the voice reigned supreme. But it will be curious to me to see if, as Lluís Pasqual describes in a recent article, a modern hymn to bel canto will be embraced by this audience.

I've been challenged by this production in a very different way than in Geneva (which I ended up enjoying enormously, for the record! The process was very rich for me artistically!), and if you've been reading this blog with any regularity, you know that I tend not to shy away from challenges! I try to meet them head on and search for the absolute best solution to them. The difficulty for me is that this production is in a very different style than I have ever done before, and it has taken me awhile to find my footing in it. But during this past week, as we went onto the beautiful set, added the UNBELIEVABLE costumes, and the orchestra joined us, I was able to enter into this rather ethereal, other-worldly atmosphere where amid a burned down, aged theater, music still emerges victorious.

I find that I'm enjoying immensely the grandeur of it all, the spectacle, the atmosphere. And, above all - the music. So I look forward to ironing out the final wrinkles tonight, solving a few of the remaining problems, and then be ready for, hopefully, a SPECTACULAR opening here in Paris on Monday evening!

Ah, but speaking of the costumes. I hope I don't get sued for this, but I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peak of my costume. It's still in flux a bit, and the costume/wig on opening night will most likely be slightly different, but this is the general idea:

The AMAZING thing about this costume is that the "fabric" that our amazing costume designer, the Academy Award winning Franca Squarciapino, wanted didn't exist. She wanted a metallic material symbolizing the armor of the men going into battle, since it is war and conflict that dominates so much of her world, and so they built this "fabric" from scratch. It's astonishing how they could create a dress from metal and have it be supple and fluid. Although I can't see it from the stage, it MUST reflect beautifully in the lights. I've never worn anything like it before, and this is definitely one of those times where you realize that being an opera singer, well, sometimes it's just way cool.

HOWEVER: you cannot imagine how much it weighs!!!!!!! (I have a feeling I may well lose a few kilo's during this run, which would delight me, naturally!) It is unbelievably heavy, and waking up the next morning after rehearsing in it for 6 hours, my body felt as if it had run the NY Marathon! It's astonishing how much strength it requires to carry that thing around all night - oh, yes, and to try and sing! But as heavy as my dress is, it doesn't compare to the men who are actually in armor! It's stunning! The technical aspect of how these costumes are put together completely boggles my mind!

So as the title of this post implies, I have some information to pass on to you. ("411" is the number you dial in the States when you are looking for someone's contact information...) I don't normally use this blog for promotional purposes, but there are a few things I'd love for you to be aware of:

* If you like hearing me stutter in French, for the next 6 days you can see my appearance on France 2 "13:00 Heures" news program. It was amazing to me to sing opera on a mid-day news program seen by over 3 million people! Classical Music in the NEWS?!?! AMAZING! So I thank them for the invitation and the HUGELY warm welcome which they extended to me!

* SATURDAY, JUNE 12!!!!! 8:00 CET, 2:00 EST Please take a listen to the broadcast of "La Donna del Lago" from Geneva. I'm very proud of the work we did under the superb direction of Paolo Arrivabeni, and starring Luciano Botelho, Gregory Kunde, and Mariselle Martinez. It was a very special cast and production for us all, and I'm most happy to be able to share it with you!

* Speaking of broadcasts, tune in on JULY 3 for the broadcast of "Le Nozze di Figaro" from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, with another very special cast under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. Pretty proud of that one, as well!

* If you're anywhere near Paris on JUNE 16, please come by the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées for a recital with David Zobel and myself. We're reprising our "Over 3 Centuries of Amore" recital for the beautiful Parisian audience, and I think it promises to be a very special evening of song. (I'll be signing discs afterwards, now that my Rossini disc is finally available here in France!!)

* Also for the folks near Paris, I'll be appearing at the FNAC at Montparnasse on JUNE 25 at 5:30 pm for an interview and signing. Hey - it's a chance to stock up on early Christmas presents!! ;-) I'll also be doing a signing after the matinee performance on JUNE 27 at the Palais Garnier.

* Website redesign! My summer project is to work on a major redesign of my current website. It's time, I'm afraid! It's funny how quickly things become out-dated in modern times! But if you have any special requests or ideas of how to make the site more interesting, informative, interactive, etc, please let me know! Special requests? Brilliant ideas? It's really there for you, so I'm all ears!

So yes, I'm in Paris, and that means I'm insanely busy, but it's an exciting time, and I'm so happy to share it with this public that has been so supportive of me over the years. C'est un plaisir, mes amis!


Georgios said...

It all sounds amazing! You may not get the biggest dress in this production, but it seems you have the heaviest! I'm terribly jealous of the Parisian audience! But having seen your Amore programme with David, twice...they are in for a huge treat.
All the best, dazzle them!

As for the website redesign, I would really like a world map where your blog posts and performances could be geo tagged to. Something like the map on Flickr, so looking on the website all your blog posts from Paris, London, New York, Madrid are all gathered from the different years. It would give a great insight to the trajectory of your career and the different challenges at each venue/city. I'm thinking it as a live career history line, on a world map with all your great posts taking us through the journey. It may be totally impractical, but I'm throwing it out there!



Charlotte said...

super-informative post, JDD. Looking forward to the broadcast. Have a lot of fun - you sure won't need to go to the gym during this run!

Aaron said...

Hi Joyce,

I had the great honor to be at the Opera Garnier last Tuesday with my school to attend your "scène orchestre" rehearsal with Mr Florez.

I have to say that I was AMAZED! If only I hadn't been too shy to comme and tell you personally ... :-) To be honest, the final rondo was breathtaking, especially at the very end, as you're lifted up :-) ... Don't worry for the opening night, I'm sure that everything will be fine !!! And please please please keep us posted!

I'm glad and delighted that you enjoy Paris. Have a very nice (and sunny) week-end! :-)

Gi said...

Wow Joyce! So much is happening, so many projects too. Wonderful to read about it all.

I just saw your France 2 interview on Facebook (thanks to EMI and to the Joyce Didonato fan pages). Lovely. You have a great accent, and the singing was a joy to listen to.

I'm sorry I missed the Swiss broadcast, and I couldn't figure out whether it's online as a podcast.

Love your Paris Elena's costume! Enjoy. I wish I had got tickets. Oh well, better luck next season.

Squillo said...

Sounds like it will be a lovely production.

I remember wearing a costume made largely of mylar and plastic wrap (SLIGHTLY lower-budget than at the Paris Opera, tee hee)--lost about 10 lbs. over the two-week run. Only good thing about that getup.

Don't fret about promoting stuff you're doing here--we read your blog because we're interested in what you do! So I second what Georgios said--a calendar with dates/locations of events you're involved in would be great. (Also--consider dark type on a light background--easier on middle-aged eyes.)

In bocca al lupo for the prima!

Opera Cake said...

Each time we hear you, you sound better. THAT's the most amazing part about you. As for the production, I'd just say GO CHRISTOF LOY!

gaulimauli said...

The composer and his Diva

As she improves his wondrous way,
Or he -by a superior spell-
Does greater melody convey,
That she may her bright self excel.

Good luck-and best wishes for a successful run.

AnnaO said...

Oh no! I missed the broadcast! :( Please please let us know if Donna del Lago will be broadcast again on any other stations. I had actually never heard this opera before, so I found an old copy of it at the library and after listening to it and reading the libretto, I can totally see how the alternative ending and unconventional interpretation of the Geneva production could be very effective and moving. So now I absolutely have to hear it!

The costume for the Paris production looks great! It totally matches the Palais Garnier in shininess!

And, Joyce, you never cease to amaze me - I didn't know you also speak French! Really well too. And, yes, it's awesome to see opera on the news!

All the best for everything and in bocca al lupo for the Paris run!


Mei said...

Good luck for tomorrow...!!

@AnnaO, BBC Radio 3 will brodcast the Geneva performances next July.

8 July

BBC Radio 3 - Rossini: La Donna del Lago
(Recorded in Geneva and starring Joyce Di Donato and Gregory Kunde, conducted by Paolo Arrivabeni)

Mei said...


I forgot to mention at what time it will be broadcasted: 8 July at 2pm (Afternoon on 3), UK time.

AliceP said...

Wonderful Blog - and great "Donna", although I would much rather hear the "Paris" cast, for sure!! Florez AND Lee, what a very lucky girl!! LOL

Zach5452 said...

Hi Joyce,

I'm listening to a recording of the La Donna del Lago broadcast someone sent me and you are wonderful. Your voice is perfect for Rossini.

Gerald said...

Dear Joyce, a warm toi, toi, toi for tonight! Everything will be more than fine, I am sure. Listening to the Geneva broadcast for the time beeing: GREAT! Too bad I missed the show. Hope you will be again part of it when it is going to be reprised at Theater an der Wien... So much looking forward to the 27th to hear and see everything with my own eyes! All the best!

Hannah* said...

"...this is definitely one of those times where you realize that being an opera singer, well, sometimes it's just way cool."

That just put the biggest smile on my face :D

Love reading your wonderful blog

AnnaO said...

@Mei, Thanks for the info! I will be sure to listen.

marcillac said...

That you were exceptional on Friday hardly needs saying. That the opera is such a remarkable work was somewhat more surprising and we should be greateful that thanks to you we get a chance to hear it and in such superb performance (the rest of the cast was excellent too). With any luck I'll be able to make it tomorrow.

This did not, of course make up for my having had to miss your recital on Wednesday (its like the old Deon Sanders commercial where he's asked "15, 20 million?" and sensibly replies "both" - this in the wake of his having signed a $35 million contract for those not immersed in the banalaties of American football).

No more revealatory than your extraordinary singing was your graciosness afterward. Enjoy the rest of the run and great luck with what will be - if I'm not mistaken - you debut at La Scala (which has, whatever foibles its management may be accused of had the good sense and skill - or luck, as it were - to have snagged you for follow ups with Octavian and Elena).

Raisa said...

Dear Joyce:
I had a long drive this afternoon and was very fortunate to listen to Le Nozze di Figaro broadcast! Beautiful brilliant work!
My toddler was in the car with me and clapped through the whole Porgi, amor and Voi che sapete. Even though he is familiar with some Handel, Gluck and some Mozart, this was his first encounter with Le Nozze. I truly believe it made his day - he has been all brightened up and happy all day today.
Have a very happy holiday, and as always - thank you!

ManicMezzo said...

I just realized that I never put in my two cents about the website. How ever you re-do it, I'm sure it will be as amazing as it is now. Please keep all of your amazing pictures! I love seeing all of the people you've met, places you've been, etc. It's quite inspiring to a midwestern teenage girl with big dreams. :) Toi toi toi for Norma!