Joyce DiDonato

Joyce DiDonato greets you with a song in her heart and twinkle in her eye. The American mezzo-soprano’s album Songplay unites extraordinary musicians from the varied worlds of opera, jazz and tango in the pure pleasure of improvisation, experimentation and exchange. Together they create their own musical language, surprising listeners with timeless melodies transformed and universal stories retold over centuries; songs in English, in Italian and — naturally — in the universal language of music.

“I had one of the most exhilarating musical weeks of my life recording the album Songplay with a world-class band. Trust me: you’re going to remember each one of these guys! It’s an incredible family of musicians — bass, piano, trumpet, drums and bandoneon. We have essentially created our own sound-world, fusing together music from the Baroque era and classics from the jazz world — with a few other surprises tossed in,” explains DiDonato. “We’ve all let down our guard (some of us have even let down our hair) and we’ve each expanded the musical traditions that we have come from to create our own style for this album. It’s joyful, it’s exuberant, it celebrates great music, and it shines a spotlight on the timeless nature of a great song. I hope you’ll want to hear this album over and over and will grow to appreciate the value of playing with a song!”

On Songplay, along with her hand-picked band led by pianist and arranger Craig Terry, DiDonato draws inspiration from Cavalli and Chet Baker in equal measure. The languishing heart in Giordani’s Car mio ben is as emotionally charged as Jerry Bock’s hopeful Will he like me? Perhaps the most compelling reminder of how the music of Songplay breaks down barriers is from DiDonato’s experience leading vocal and composition workshops in the New York prison Sing Sing, where one of the men who is incarcerated was particularly moved upon hearing her rendition of Car mio ben: ‘I feel like I’ve known this song my whole life.’

Joyce DiDonato’s stellar credentials in Baroque and Italian arias didn’t stop her from exploring her beloved American Songbook alongside Haydn and Rossini for the Grammy Award-winning album Joyce & Tony: Live from Wigmore Hall. DiDonato first appeared on the Harris stage in 2017 with In War and Peace, where she demonstrated the healing power of music that brings people together on the path towards peace. Songplay picks up from that place of peace and leaps into the realm of joy: it is an all-encompassing celebration of song — one in which there are no boundaries or rules. Let’s play.

Joyce DiDonato, voice
Craig Terry, keys
Chuck Israels, double bass
Jimmy Madison, drums
Lautaro Greco, bandoneon
Charlie Porter, trumpet


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