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March 2014
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Warm-Up to Joyce DiDonato


Wednesday at 7:15 PM

For Kansas native Joyce DiDonato, there was no yellow brick road. In fact her ascent to becoming one of the biggest draws at the Metropolitan Opera might have seemed more like Frodo’s trek to Mordor. There were highlights, of course, like winning a spot in the Houston Studio, the apprentice program at the Houston Grand Opera—but that was also where vocal coach Stephen Smith (who now teaches at Northwestern) told the mezzo she needed to start over. She spent three years in Houston working with Smith, first unlearning everything she knew about singing, then rebuilding.

Typically singers who are going to have big careers start picking up roles after such an apprenticeship; hers were limited to regional companies. She was then in her late twenties—but she persisted.

For Joyce DiDonato, and for her enormous fan base, persistence paid. She made her Met debut at age 35 as Cherubino (2005). In 2010 DiDonato was named Gramophone Artist of the Year; Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that she had become “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation”; in 2012 she picked up a Grammy Award.

Joyce DiDonato is in Chicago for La clemenza di Tito at Lyric Opera of Chicago, part of what one Lyric staffer called “a rock star cast” with Matthew Polenzani and Amanda Majeski.

WFMT’s live broadcast of opening night of La clemenza di Tito from the Civic Opera House begins on Wednesday evening at 7:15 PM. Joyce DiDonato will sing a live Impromptu at WFMT on Wednesday, March 12 at 4:00 PM.


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