Q&A with Joyce DiDonato
By: Jennifer Colgan
Every spring, Opera Colorado presents a magnificent gala that is instrumental in raising funds that support our mission. On May 13, 2023, we are honored to welcome internationally-renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as the featured performer at our 40th Anniversary Gala, which will take place at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. We recently got a chance to ask Joyce a few questions about the gala performance and her other passions as an educator and advocate.
Tell us a little about your program for our 40th Anniversary Gala. What are you most excited about?
Pianist Craig Terry and I have planned a festive, soulful, heart-warming evening of music that we love, that offers a vivid glimpse into who I am as a singer. Hopefully, it will remind the wonderful patrons of Opera Colorado why we love gathering together to share in the experience of beautiful music.
What is the biggest difference between a recital, like you will perform for our gala, and performing in an opera?
There are no rules with a recital! An opera is a unified vision of telling a story through sets, costumes and a pre-ordained score. But with a recital, we have the opportunity to create something that can be completely unique, often breaking the “fourth wall.” It can become a wildly personal and unique evening. No single recital is ever repeatable, and I love that element of it.
Many of your personal projects address issues of social and political justice. Why is activism such an important part of your work as an artist?
One of the principal reasons I was drawn to classical music is because of the ideals and the truth that is often aimed for in the works of Mozart and Handel and Strauss. We sing of love, search for understanding, and pursue nobility and beauty. As I look at the world around me, I find deep inspiration and guidance in the music and poetry I sing. I think some of the projects I have created are simply attempts to connect some of the “idealistic dots” from the stage into our everyday lives.
In addition to your extensive performing career, you lead masterclasses and other educational events around the globe. Why is music education important?
I think every single child needs the gift of having art in their life. The benefits are endless, incredibly well documented, and without any question enrich and lift up the lives of children. I find it positively scandalous that music is not a part of every child’s education. And so, when I have the chance, I am preaching that!
Tell us about your most recent project, EDEN. What were the origins of this project? How can audiences get involved with the cause?
The idea behind EDEN is quite simple: look around to see what you can create in your life right now and examine what kinds of seeds you are planting in your everyday life. It’s an invitation to look at the world around us and find better ways to build up our “garden” through song, action, and support. We have so many opportunities to work as a community to work with nature and with each other, not against it.
Why do you think it is important to support the arts, especially in these current times? How do the arts help humanity in times of crisis?
The arts are so often a vital lifeline for people. They offer comfort, understanding, inspiration, and community, and oftentimes will be the one place troubled people feel they belong or are understood. Theater and music dare to hold a mirror up to our lives, offering a kind of introspection that invites real growth and evolution. We understand ourselves better, and each other, and this is what builds a healthy, caring, supportive community. I’m elated to help Opera Colorado celebrate four decades of bringing art into your community, and may this be the start of many, many more!
We are greatly looking forward to welcoming Joyce to our 40th Anniversary Gala in May! Her performance with Opera Colorado will help raise essential funds for opera in the Denver community and beyond. See Joyce DiDonato live on Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House when you join us at the gala.
Learn more at operacolorado.org/gala.>>