Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Worst accompanying photos EVER, but it's the best I can do for the moment!

Greetings from SUNNY Salzburg! Oh how happy I am to be able to say that! This city is simply stunning in the sunshine! May it never go away.

I am happy to report that sizzling electricity pulsed through Bellini's music last night, and my first essay of this wonderful role will be galvanized in my memory for a long time to come. I feel like I just met a new, dear, friend, and I cannot wait to spend more time with her. That may sound a bit strange, but I feel this way when I sing a role for the first time: I never really know this new character until I meet him/her in performance, and with the bit of performing experience I have, I'm all too aware that with the debut undertaking of a new role you barely scratch the surface of finding out who they are, even with all the greatest preparation and intensive rehearsal in the world. The dynamics of performance are so different that nothing can really prepare you for the journey you will take in front of the audience. I know that with each outing I will learn more and more about the character and about how I can meld myself with them. (See - another reason I love the challenges of opera - those never ending possibilities to learn!)

Adalgisa is an astonishing creation. She possesses a very strong moral center, but grapples with her fevered passions - her passion for her God, for her vows, and for the man she loves - who, as tenors are wont to do, serves to complicate things exponentially. Above all, however, she fights for her devotion to Norma. In this she is unwavering. She doesn't waste time bemoaning her fate - she attacks it straight on: "God, protect me in this fight", not "But I love him sooooo. Why can't have him? Pooooooor meeeeee." No - she faces her dilema straight on and fights proactively to salvage her faith. She immediately denounces him when she knows he has betrayed Norma.

The strength of this woman, as the opera moves forward and she comes into her own radiates so strongly, that singing her story is such a joy. I love, for example, when we get to the hit-melody of "Mira, O Norma", which Bellini weaved with such simple perfection, he serves up the same simple vocal line for both, and yet we can hear two completely different emotions emanating from these two women. With Adalgisa, I feel a strong, unwavering, unbroken line of assurance and conviction as she wills Norma to salvage her life, and yet, with the same notes and rhythms, Norma can sound as if she is barely able to stand, completely without strength and faltering with each syllable. One melody, two different stories, two conflicting emotions.

And then? These 2 voices miraculously meld into one and Norma is lifted up and sustained in hope and promise. Sadly, yes, this promise ends in a fiery demise, OK, but for the MOMENT perfection triumphs and all is harmonious in the melodic world of thirds and tag-team coloratura!

Please excuse me, but I must gush and blubber-on for a moment to say what a privilege it was to stand on stage last night with the LEGENDARY Edita Gruberova and have the incredible honor of making music with her. She is a monumental artist and has given this world so much joy and beauty through her singing and artistry, that I had to work extremely hard last night not to simply stand in awe of not only what she has accomplished in her long and storied career, but in the performance she was crafting before my eyes last night. It was a magical night for me as an admirer of hers, and as a musician, to create music on that level next to such a star. Indeed it was a night to remember!

Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I was obviously too preoccupied with my first attack of this role (in such a prestigious venue, no less - AND, as I found out, in what was the premiere performance of "Norma" for the Salzburg Festival!), that my camera did not make an appearance. I hope to make up for it with the 2nd show.

But I wanted to post something....so I have some bug shots from my vacation last week outside of Innsbruck. Yes. Bugs. But, if you'll bear with me, I can connect the dots. But please, at this point, do me a favor and re-read the title of this blog post, as it truly is the worst association of a blog theme with photos. Ever.


OK - here goes nothing:

The colony of worshipers await Norma's arrival on the scene. (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge to get the full benefit of the association!)

She stands before them and spins a perfect bel canto line in her famous aria, "Casta Diva":

In front of her two children, she contemplates murdering them. (My God, who EVER says opera is boring?!?!):

Saving the day, Adalgisa flies onto the scene and convinces Norma to be a better Mother as they sing the hit tune, "Look, Norma":

Oh, that was terrible. But I did spend the most fascinating half hour with this flower watching the traffic of the feeders and I was mesmerized. Which completely grosses me out, because I'm really not a bug person. At all.

Either is Norma, I know, but hey - we have to make do with what we've got, right? Oh no - what have I done? I've surely just inspired some young director in a most perverse way!



Vanette said...

Thank you. The ending comment made me smile, Do you know of any plans to record and/or release this Norma? Hint, hint!

Unknown said...

Another great post, Joyce!(sorry for stating he obvious)
Norma is such a gem, hope you have the chance to sing Adalgisa many ,many times in the future. I can only imagine the mix of exhilaration and fear performing next to Edita Gruberova, a true opera legend! Somehow all your fans will agree that you are a legend in the making. Looking forward to some shots from the second performance. Take care

Unknown said...

Dear Joyce, the Austrian Press Agency called the performance of Ms. Gruberova and yourself simply "Bellissimo Canto" - what more is there to say?

I find the pictures most adorable, now can we please have a youtube video with the soundtrack to go along ;-) ?
Best wishes for the second performance!

Mei said...

It seems you enjoy the performance... :P

Looking forward to your next run of Norma...

PS: So you haven't heard about Zapata's Barbiere at Basel Opera singing like that...

Klassikfan said...

Norma and Adalgisa as tiny bugs on stage would be a nice idea... You know which animals are on stage in Bayreuth's latest production of "Lohengrin"? Rats.... (well, singers dressed up as rats). Nothing is impossible.

Sibyl said...

Ah, the bug theme HAS been tried. Have you seen this:


There is no idea so outre that it hasn't been trotted out. And, if you take into consideration Druidism-as-nature-worship, bugs might indeed be apt.

Enjoy Salzburg, and here's hoping I get to see you as Adalgisa somewhere in time!

Anonymous said...

Joyce, we don't know each other, but I too am a singer and your comments about not knowing a character until you start the journey of performance really hit home for me. Thanks and all the best!!

Haimes said...


Your blog and enthusiasm are wonderful. You are the true Yankee or American Diva. Alas, we are from Boston so Yankee has a tough connotation for us.

We saw you in La Cenerentola with Florez in Barcelona and I love your new CD!

Sing on forever and thanks for the wonderful commentary

Schrati said...

Hahahaha - great! :D even though I'd love to see some photos of the performance I think you definitely saved the posting with your Norma, the Bug story! In the city where I live they would even produce such a thing, so I'll know where it comes from!
Enjoy the rest of your Adalgisa nights!

heldensoubrette said...

OMG Joyce! I was able to see the Second Act of Norma! Someone handed me a ticket worth 253 Euros.

Mira, o Norma was heartbreaking. There was not a dry eye in the theater during In mia man and Qual cor tradisti.

Your performances are so much better live in the theater!


Violetta said...

Dear Joyce,

Just back home from last night's NORMA and the very first thing must be this (since we did not get a chance to tell you personally):


What a wonderful Adalgisa!!! Unbelievable that this was your first one! Every single note expressed sooo much! And we never even noticed that this was a concert version ... :-)

What a great and unforgettable evening, with such an Adalgisa and such a Norma!

MANY THANKS for this wonderful performance!

Enjoy the second night on Saturday! All the best, Lilly

Dr.B said...

I am happy to hear you are taking a vacation, but I post way worse pictures than these.

freeze said...

Great post, don't worry about pictures.

Zsolt said...

Dear Joyce!

I was lucky to see the monday performance, and it was wonderful and fantastic. Your debut of Adalgisa was great, Mira o Norma was unforgottable, thank you very much!!
And Edita Gruberova was singing as a truly legend, that was a wonder what she did.

Thank you very much dear Joyce, warm congratulations for your new role!

Zsolt said...

And for everybody who couldn't be there..i have some good news..soon there will be some parts in audio file from the performance on youtube:))))

GooglyElmo said...

Um, this really should say "best accompanying photos ever!" because I laughed out loud in front of all my housemates while reading this. Fantastic story with the pics! Also, fantastic description of the performance. Wish I could make it to the festival :(

Klassikfan said...

It doesn't happen too often that the media (in Austria and Germany) agree and even outdo one another in their enthusiasm for a premiere at the Salzburg Festival. But Monday's "Norma" is the big exception. It is pure bliss reading their characterizations of the vocal harmony between Edita Gruberova and Joyce DiDonato: "Bellissimo Canto of two world class singers"! Absolutely true, and what a shame that there seems to be no radio recording of this unique evening.

chris said...

If your voice ever gives out, God forbid, you could easily become a great nature photographer.