Joyce DiDonato conducts her own personal “war on war”

Limelight Magazine

Joyce DiDonato has never been one to ignore an issue. In the past, the Kansas-born mezzo has campaigned against homophobic bullying in schools, played the Stonewall Inn to honour hate-crime victims, and last month she sang for young offenders at Chicago Correctional Facility. Until now, she’s tended to divide her social crusading from her recording career, though a glance at rarities on recent albums shows she never plays exactly safe. That was before the Paris attacks.

Back in November 2015, DiDonato was at home painstakingly sifting through obscure baroque arias by the likes of Niccolò Jomelli and Leonardo Leo. Her new project should have complemented her acclaimed Stella di Napoli, an album reclaiming forgotten repertoire from the Neapolitan bel canto. Then, on November 13, a series of bomb blasts rocked the French capital and brought the ill wind of international terrorism whistling into her Kansas City music room.

“I think when you’re reading Twitter and Facebook and you see people you know in panic, or when they’re writing ‘I’m safe in Paris’, then that strikes very close to home,” she explains, her voice sounding affected even now as we chat over Skype. “Each time something happens you think ‘I can’t take anymore’ or ‘when is it going to end?’, and then another one comes.”

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