Who is Joyce DiDonato? Get to know the American operatic mezzo-soprano

12 August 2019, 15:21 | Updated: 12 August 2019, 15:26

By Rosie Pentreath

Joyce DiDonato has performed with the world’s biggest orchestras and opera companies, and her interpretations of Mozart and Handel are peerless. Here’s what you need to know...

Joyce DiDonato is a multi Grammy Award-winning operatic lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano.

Where is Joyce DiDonato from?

Born in Kansas into an Irish-American family, DiDonato studied vocals at Wichita State University and graduated in 1992.

She won recognition at Houston Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions early in her career, before taking out second prize in Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition in 1998.

Her operatic career since has seen her perform in the very best opera – from Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville – and at the very best venues around the world, including the Carnegie, Royal Albert and Wigmore halls.

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato opera star
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Picture: Getty

Read more: Joyce DiDonato is an absolute goddess and here are all the reasons why >

What awards has Joyce DiDonato won?

Among other prizes, the incredible mezzo has won two Grammy Awards – ‘Best Classical Vocal Solo’ for Diva Divo in 2011 and ‘Best Classical Solo Vocal Album’ in 2015 for Joyce & Tony – Live From Wigmore Hall – and been nominated for seven more.

In 2018 she won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

What recordings has Joyce DiDonato released?

Joyce Didonato has a raft of fine recordings to her name, with her recent release of Les Troyens (which won an International Opera Award in the ‘Recording’ category), and the Grammy Award-winning discs Diva, Divo and Joyce & Tony – Live From Wigmore Hall, being among those that really stand out.

As a coloratura mezzo (as opposed to a “dramatic” mezzo), many of DiDonato’s discs revolve around Baroque and core Classical repertoire, such as works by Handel, Mozart, and Rossini.

But that’s not to say there aren’t departures – there’s the award-winning Berlioz Les Troyens recording we’ve already mentioned, and DiDonato’s Songplay collection, which incorporates Ellington and Rodgers amidst the core classical selections.

What is an operatic lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano?

“Lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano” refers to the range – i.e. the more comfortable or natural – pitches of DiDonato’s singing voice, as well as the quality.

“Lyric” indicates a depth to the voice, whereas a “coloratura” singer demonstrates the flexibility and agility that’s particularly suited to Baroque and classical opera repertoire. This is in contrast to a "dramatic" voice, which may be more suited to Romantic operas.

Where can we see Joyce DiDonato perform?

This year, DiDonato is performing all over the world, including in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Amsterdam.

From 23 September 2019, she will be at the Royal Opera House in London for Handel’s Agrippina, conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev.

Visit joycedidonato.com to keep an eye on DiDonato’s concerts and find out more.