Multi Grammy Award winner (2016 Best Classical Solo Vocal Album Joyce and Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall; 2012 Best Classical Vocal Solo for Diva/Divo), Kansas-born Joyce DiDonato entrances audiences around the world, and has been proclaimed “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation” by the New Yorker. With a voice “nothing less than 24-carat gold” according to the Times, DiDonato has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and a fierce advocate for the arts, gaining international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging, acclaimed discography. She is also widely acclaimed for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti – the critic from The Financial Times judging her performances as Elena in La donna del Lago as “simply the best singing I’ve heard in years”.
Much in demand on the concert and recital circuit, she has recently held residencies and master classes at Carnegie Hall and at London’s Barbican Centre, toured extensively in South America, Europe and Asia and appeared as guest soloist at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. Highlights in opera have included the title role in Maria Stuarda at the Metropolitan Opera, for The Royal Opera and at the Liceu in Barcelona; the title role in Alcina on tour with The English Concert and Harry Bicket and Marguerite from La damnation de Faust with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle.
DiDonato’s 2015/16 engagements included Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with The Royal Opera on tour to Japan, her stage debut as Charlotte in Werther for The Royal Opera, Arden Scott in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at the Dallas Opera (recorded for album release) for which she won the 2016 Maria Callas Prize, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Elena in La donna del lago.
An exclusive recording artist with Erato/Warner Classics, DiDonato’s live recording from Wigmore Hall, Joyce and Tony, has been selected as 'le choix de France Musique' in addition to taking a Grammy. Other recordings include Stella di Napoli, a sumptuous bel canto banquet including little-known gems alongside music by Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti.
Her Grammy Award-winning Diva/Divo comprises arias by male and female characters, celebrating the rich dramatic world of the mezzo-soprano. The following album, Drama Queens, was exceptionally well received, both on disc and on several international tours. A retrospective of her first ten years of recordings entitled ReJoyce! was released last year with a crowd-sourced tracklist.
Other honours include the Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, three German Echo Klassik Awards (Female Singer of the Year), and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.
Recent career highlights include singing the American national anthem televised to millions at the baseball World Series in 2014, and her feature film debut in a biopic on Florence Foster Jenkins (released November 2016), widely acknowledged as the worst singer in the world.
Joyce DiDonato's new album, In War and Peace - Harmony Through Music, will be released early November 2016, with an international tour to follow in 2017.
Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra since the start of the 2012/13 season and Music Director of Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has also been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal) since 2000, and has conducted all the major ensembles in his native Canada.
His European debut in 2004 swiftly led to invitations to many ensembles, such as the Dresden Staatskapelle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Philharmoniker (in Salzburg, Lucerne and Vienna), Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2009 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returning the following year with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Summer 2012 saw concerts with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Canada; The Philadelphia Orchestra in Vail and Saratoga; and concerts at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
A notable opera conductor, Mr Nézet-Séguin made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with a new production of Roméo et Juliette, returning to the city for the 2010 Mozartwoche and for Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals. For The Metropolitan Opera, he has conducted Carmen, Don Carlo and Faust, with La Traviata opening next month and will continue to appear each season thereafter. His 2011 debut at Teatro alla Scala (Roméo et Juliette) was followed last year by his first production for Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Rusalka) and returns in a later season. For Netherlands Opera, he has conducted The Makropoulos Case, Turandot and Don Carlo (all with the Rotterdam Philharmonic) and in 2011, embarked on a major opera series for Festspielhaus Baden-Baden.
Last October, Mr Nézet-Séguin’s inaugural concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra were most warmly received and included his acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut (Verdi Requiem). Alongside regular subscription and touring programmes, he will lead three Carnegie Hall concerts each season and will make their first recording together for Deutsche Grammophon later this season. Other highlights of 2012/13 include two separate tours to Japan and the Far East with the Rotterdam Philharmonic; a German tour with the London Philharmonic; and the complete Schumann symphonies and concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he recorded live last November for Deutsche Grammophon from Cité de la Musique in Paris.
In July 2012, following highly successful DVD releases of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Salzburg Festival, 2008) and Bizet’s Carmen (The Metropolitan Opera, 2010) for their Yellow Label, Deutsche Grammophon announced a major long-term collaboration. Alongside his Philadelphia Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe recordings, he makes a series of three recordings with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, starting with Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony; and live recordings of Mozart’s seven mature operas from the Baden-Baden Summer Festival. The first, Don Giovanni, was recorded in 2011 with Mahler Chamber Orchestra and released last year to outstanding reviews and will be followed in 2013 by the release of Così fan tutte, recorded last summer with Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Remaining titles in the series are Idomeneo, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte. Mr Nézet-Séguin’s discography with the Rotterdam Philharmonic also includes recordings of Strauss (Ein Heldenleben/Vier letzte Lieder) and Berlioz (Symphonie fantastique/La Mort de Cléopâtre) for BIS Records; and three EMI/Virgin releases, including an Edison Award-winning album of Ravel’s orchestral works. With the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir he has recorded Brahms’s German Requiem on the LPO’s own label; he also continues to enjoy a fruitful recording relationship with Orchestre Métropolitain and Canadian label ATMA Classique.
A native of Montreal, Mr Nézet-Séguin studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montreal and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably the Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini. His honours include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award; Canada’s highly coveted National Arts Centre Award and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec, awarded by the Quebec government. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Quebec in Montreal and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012. (By Askonas Holt)