The exhilaratingly fine new release from mezzo‑soprano Joyce DiDonato arrives with a freakish sense of timeliness ...


Drawing on the Baroque masters — chiefly Purcell and Handel, with a few ringers thrown in — DiDonato has assembled a collection of arias based on themes of war and peace, and together with the period-instrument assemble Il Pomo d’Oro, she delivers them with all the dramatic fervor and tonal luster she commands. (The performers bring this program to Rohnert Park on Friday, Dec. 2, and Berkeley next Sunday, Dec. 4). And although the repertoire appears at first to be neatly bisected, with fiery military numbers giving way to more placid selections, the truth is far subtler — war and peace reveal themselves here to be closely intertwined. DiDonato’s singing, with its blend of fiery extravagance and expressive intimacy, does as much as anything to drive the point home.”

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Image: Mark Allan / Barbican