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Joyce DiDonato (née Flaherty; born February 13, 1969) is an American operatic lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano[2] notable for her interpretations of the works of Handel, Mozart, and Rossini.

Joyce DiDonato
Joyce DiDonato Wigmore Hall.jpg
DiDonato after a concert at Wigmore Hall in December 2017
Joyce Flaherty

(1969-02-13) February 13, 1969 (age 50)
Alma materAcademy of Vocal Arts
OccupationOpera singer (mezzo-soprano)
Alex DiDonato
(m. 1990; div. 2004)
Leonardo Vordoni
(m. 2006; div. 2013)

She has performed with many of the world's leading opera companies and orchestras, and in 2012 and 2016 won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo.[3][4]


Early life and educationEdit

Joyce Flaherty was born in Prairie Village, Kansas in 1969, the sixth of seven children in an Irish-American family. Her father, Donald, was a self-employed architect who designed houses in the area. One of her sisters, Amy Hetherington, was a music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School, which Joyce and her siblings attended.[5] She later went to Bishop Miege High School where she sang in musicals.[5] She entered Wichita State University (WSU) in 1988 to study vocal music education, because she was initially more interested in teaching high school vocal music and musical theatre. She became interested in opera after seeing a PBS telecast of Don Giovanni,[5] and then, in her junior year, when she was cast in a school production of Die Fledermaus.

After graduating from WSU in spring 1992, DiDonato decided to pursue graduate studies in vocal performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts.[6] Following her studies in Philadelphia, she was accepted in the Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Singer program for the summer 1995 festival season, where she appeared in several minor roles and understudied for larger parts in such operas as Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Richard Strauss' Salome, Kálmán's Gräfin Mariza and the 1994 world premiere of David Lang's Modern Painters. She was honored as one of several Outstanding Apprentice Artists by the Santa Fe Opera that year.[citation needed]

She became a part of Houston Grand Opera's young artist program in 1996; she sang there from autumn 1996 until spring 1998. During the summer of 1997, DiDonato participated in San Francisco Opera's Merola Program.[7]

During her apprentice years, DiDonato competed in several vocal competitions. In 1996 she won second prize in the Eleanor McCollum Competition and was a district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In 1997 she won a William Matheus Sullivan Award, while in 1998 she won second prize in the Operalia Competition, first place in the Stewart Awards, won the George London Competition, and received a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.[8]

In a 2016 interview with English mezzo-soprano Janet Baker, DiDonato discussed that from age 26 to 29 (circa 1995-1998), she radically changed her vocal technique. "When a lot of my friends were getting covers at The Met and leading roles at [The New York] City Opera,… it wasn't coming together for me. And I stopped and I said, 'OK, let's revamp.' .... And I was really bad for about a year and a half, because my teacher was taking away all the mechanism that I was using to sing. And it was the best thing that could have happened."[9]



DiDonato began her professional career in the 1998/1999 season singing with several regional opera companies in the United States. She most notably appeared as the main heroine, Maslova, in the world premiere of Tod Machover's Resurrection with the Houston Grand Opera.[10] She gave a recital in San Francisco that year as part of the Schwabacher recital series.

Also at Houston Grand Opera, DiDonato performed the role of Meg in the world premiere during the 1999/2000 season of Mark Adamo's Little Women with Stephanie Novacek as Jo and Chad Shelton as Laurie. That season, she also sang the role of Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Santa Fe Opera and the role of Isabella in Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri with the New Israeli Opera. She gave a recital at New York's Morgan Library under the auspices of the George London Foundation and sang the mezzo-soprano solos in the Seattle Symphony's production of Handel's Messiah.[11]

DiDonato made her debut at La Scala as Angelina in Rossini's La Cenerentola in the 2000-01 season, returned to Houston Grand Opera as Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, and sang the mezzo-soprano solos in Bach's Mass in B minor with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and conductor John Nelson.[11]

The 2001/2002 season included debuts with Washington National Opera as Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, with De Nederlandse Opera as Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare, with Opéra National de Paris as Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, and with Bavarian State Opera as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Also, she returned to the Santa Fe Opera to perform the role of Annio in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and made several concert appearances, including those with Riccardo Muti conducting the La Scala Orchestra in Vivaldi's Gloria and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris's presentation of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.[citation needed]

Debuts with the New York City Opera (as Sister Helen in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking), at the Théâtre du Châtelet in the title role of Rossini's La cenerentola, at the Royal Opera House as Zlatohrbitek the fox in Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and with the New National Theatre Tokyo as Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia all came during the 2002-03 season. That same season saw performances of the title role in Rossini's Adina at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and the role of Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with Opéra Bastille.

In concert, she performed Mozart's Requiem with the Seattle Symphony, Berlioz's Les nuits d'été with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in a production of Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Orchestra of St. Luke's under the baton of Peter Schreier. She toured Europe with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre in performances of Les nuits d'été.[12]

The San Francisco Opera was the venue during the 2003/2004 season when DiDonato made her debut as Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia plus a reprise of the role with Houston Grand Opera. She performed Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo with De Nederlandse Opera and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, also sang the role of Ascanio in a concert performance of Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini with the Orchestre National de France. Solo recital appearances included the Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Kansas City's Folly Theater, and Wigmore Hall in London, among others. She sang at the Hollywood Bowl in a production of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.[12]

In the role of Elisabetta at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, she gave her first performances in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda during the 2004/2005 season. Also, she returned to La Scala as Angelina in Rossini's La Cenerentola and once again played Rosina in a new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia by Luca Ronconi at the Pesaro Festival and the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.[11]

During the 2005-06 season, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and she also played Stéphano in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at the Met. She returned to the Royal Opera House as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, sang her first Sesto in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito with Grand Théâtre de Genève, and sang the role of Dejanira in Handel's Hercules at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and at the Barbican Centre in London with William Christie. She appeared in several concerts with the New York Philharmonic and gave a recital at Wigmore Hall. She closed the Santa Fe Opera's 50th anniversary season in the title role of Massenet's Cendrillon.[11]

DiDonato debuted at the Teatro Real as the Composer in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos in the 2006-07 season, and returned to both the Opéra National de Paris as Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo and to Houston Grand Opera as Angelina in La Cenerentola. She sang Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Metropolitan Opera and sang her first Octavian in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier with the San Francisco Opera in addition to touring the U.S. and Europe on an extensive recital tour with accompanist Julius Drake.[13]

Her 2007-08 season appearances included her debut at the Liceu as Angelina in La Cenerentola and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She sang the title role in Handel's Alcina with Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco and the title role in Handel's Ariodante at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. She also sang Roméo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Opéra Bastille and returned to Madrid's Teatro Real as Idamante in Idomeneo in July 2008. DiDonato gave recitals at La Scala, Lincoln Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and performed a special concert of Handel arias which was recorded in Brussels.[14]


In the 2008/2009 season, DiDonato returned to Covent Garden as Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni and as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. In a performance of that opera on July 7, DiDonato slipped onstage and broke her right fibula; she finished the first act hobbling and the rest of the performance on crutches. She then performed the five remaining scheduled performances from a wheelchair.[15] She performed the roles of Beatrice in Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict with Houston Grand Opera, Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo with Opéra National de Paris, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia in her debut with Vienna State Opera.[citation needed]

DiDonato also appeared in concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the latter of which under the baton of James Levine. She toured Europe and the United States with Les Talens Lyriques giving concerts of Handel arias, including performances at Wigmore Hall and the Rossini Opera Festival.[16]

She sang the role of Isolier in Rossini's Le comte Ory with the Metropolitan Opera in April 2011. In April 2012, she sang the role of Mary Stuart in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda with the Houston Grand Opera,[17] repeating the role in the work's premiere performances at the Metropolitan Opera in January 2013. In the spring of 2013, she starred in a new production of Rossini's La donna del lago given by The Royal Opera, Covent Garden.[18] A new production was mounted by the Santa Fe Opera during its 2013 festival season, also starring DiDonato with Lawrence Brownlee as Uberto. [19] For the first time in its 57-year history, the Santa Fe Opera added an extra performance of La donna del lago due to unprecedented ticket demand.[20]

On September 7, 2013 she performed at the Last Night of the Proms, singing arias by Massenet ("Je suis gris! je suis ivre!"), Handel ("Ombra mai fu"), and Rossini ("Tanti affetti in tal momento!") as well as "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel, "Over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz as a bow to her home State of Kansas, and "Danny Boy"; she then led the audience into the traditional "Rule, Britannia!".[21] On September 21, 2013, she sang the role of Romeo as the Lyric Opera of Kansas City opened its season with Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.[22]

In January 2014, DiDonato was named a "Perspectives" artist for the duration of Carnegie Hall's 2014/2015 season. During that time her performance collaborators include The English Concert conducted by Harry Bicket, her accompanist David Zobel, the Brentano String Quartet, and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Maurizio Benini.[23]

She performed in Rossini's La Cenerentola, as the title role at the Metropolitan Opera in April and May.[24][25]

In early September 2014, she opened the Wigmore Hall's 2014/15 season with two concerts and with Antonio Pappano at the piano. The programme included works by Haydn, Rossini, Santoliquido and songs from the Great American Songbook. A live recording was released in 2015 "Joyce and Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall". This recording was a 2016 Grammy Award Winner: Best Classical Vocal Solo Album.[26]

In late September 2014, DiDonato opened the Barbican's 2014/15 classical season with a concert entitled Stella di Napoli[27] with the Orchestre et Choeur de l'Opéra de Lyon conducted by Riccardo Minasi [it]. This was the first concert of five events for Joyce DiDonato in the Barbican's Artist Spotlight series. The remaining four events were three concerts:

In 2015, she began giving masterclasses annually at Carnegie Hall, more specifically, at the Weill Music Institute.[33] This is a three-day program where several aspiring singers (usually college students) study with her personally over three days, to receive important feedback regarding their performance and vocal abilities.

In 2016, DiDonato released an album and later gave a recital entitled In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music, for which she received a Grammy Award. This was her third and most recent Grammy Award.

On December 31, 2017, Didonato was featured in a New Year's Eve Concert at the Berlin Philarmonic.

In 2019, DiDonato released her album Songplay, which mixes jazz, Latin, and tango rhythms into arrangements of Italian Baroque arias, jazz standards, and picks from the Great American Songbook. After a well-acclaimed album release, she then went on to do a national tour, after the album was released between February 18 and March 10, 2019.[34]

DiDonato is set to perform in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Handel's Agrippina in the 2019-2020 season, as the title role of Agrippina.

Personal lifeEdit

Joyce DiDonato married Alex DiDonato, from whom she gained her surname, at 21. They divorced after being together for 14 years.[1] She married the Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni in 2006,[35] and divorced in 2013.[5]


Film and television appearancesEdit

Roles in operasEdit

@ Indicates a world premiere


Complete operasEdit




  • William Barnewitz: Long Road Home, DiDonato appears as a guest artist, released 2007, Avie
  • Plácido Domingo's Operalia '98: A Tribute to Passion and Soul, released 1998, Montblanc


  1. ^ a b "Joyce DiDonato: Not just Joyce from Kansas". The Guardian. September 19, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  2. ^ Kellow, Brian (December 2011). "The Sweet Voice of Reason". Opera News. 76 (6). Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  3. ^ "58th Annual Grammy Awards Winners & Nominees – 79. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album",
  4. ^ a b "Grammys 2016: The Complete Winners List", Rolling Stone, February 15, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Ross, Alex (October 7, 2013). "Mastersinger: How Joyce DiDonato, of Prairie Village, Kansas, conquered opera". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  6. ^ "About Joyce DiDonato". Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Carie J. Delmar, "A conversation with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato about her roller coaster ride to success amidst doubt and faith" Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine on; retrieved November 17, 2013
  8. ^ a b Joyce DiDonato: mezzo-soprano (profile) on; retrieved November 17, 2013.
  9. ^ "Janet Baker and Joyce DiDonato In Conversation". Royal Opera House's YouTube channel. June 22, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  10. ^ "Houston Grand Opera presents RESURRECTION: An Opera in Two Acts", April 1999. Details of the opera on Retrieved November 17, 2013
  11. ^ a b c d "Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo-soprano)",; retrieved November 17, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "About the Performer – Joyce DiDonato" on the Los Angeles Philharmonic website; retrieved November 17, 2013
  13. ^ San Francisco Opera archives,; accessed February 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Biography,; retrieved November 17, 2013.
  15. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (July 7, 2009). "Opera Singer Soldiers on After Onstage Accident". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  16. ^ Schedule,; accessed February 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "Mary Stuart". Houston Grand Opera. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  18. ^ Tim Ashley, "La Donna del Lago – review", The Guardian (London), May 20, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  19. ^ Santa Fe Opera press release; retrieved July 10, 2012.
  20. ^ "La donna del lago Performance Added", Santa Fe Opera, July 17, 2013.
  21. ^ "Prom 75: Last Night of the Proms". Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  22. ^ Libby Hanssen, "Passionate, psychological Capulets and Montagues features hometown diva Joyce DiDonato", The Kansas City Star, September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013
  23. ^ Joyce DiDonato's Perspectives Carnegie Hall,; accessed February 16, 2018.
  24. ^ La Cenerentola, retrieved February 22, 2019
  25. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (April 22, 2014). "Cinderella and Her Prince, With Palpable Longing". The New York Times.
  26. ^ "Grammy Awards website". Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  27. ^ "Stella di Napoli, Artist Spotlight, Barbican, London". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  28. ^ "Handel's Alcina, Artist Spotlight, Barbican, London". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  29. ^ "Camille Claudel – Into the Fire, Artist Spotlight, Barbican, London". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  30. ^ "New York Philharmonic & Joyce DiDonato, Artist Spotlight, Barbican, London". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  31. ^ "Masterclass with Joyce DiDonato, Artist Spotlight, Milton Court Concert Hall". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  32. ^ "Guildhall Masterclass: Joyce DiDonato Vocal Masterclass – Francesca Chiejina". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  33. ^ "Joyce DiDonato Master Classes". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  34. ^ "Joyce DiDonato - The official web site of JOYCE DiDONATO". Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  35. ^ "Joyce DiDonato, an Opera Star Who Dreamed of Pop". The New York Times. May 1, 2009. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  36. ^ "Area vocalist wins opera award". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. March 12, 2002.
  37. ^ "Mezzo Joyce DiDonato Named Recipient of Met's Second Annual Beverly Sills Award", at Retrieved November 20, 2013
  38. ^ "Joyce DiDonato Wins 2010 German ECHO Klassik Singer of the Year Award",, August 9, 2010
  39. ^ Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2010
  40. ^ Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2010
  41. ^ "Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano)". Gramophone. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  42. ^ Christopher Morris (February 13, 2012). "Adele's '21' wins album of the year at Grammys: Singer's 'Rolling in the Deep' nabs record of the year". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012.
  43. ^ ECHO Klassik Award Winners 2013
  44. ^ "Musical America Honors DiDonato and Dudamel" on
  45. ^ a b "Intermusica – News".
  46. ^ ECHO Klassik Award Winners 2015
  47. ^ ECHO Klassik Award Winners 2017
  48. ^ Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017
  49. ^ "Händel-Preisträgerin 2018 Joyce DiDonato". Haendelhaus (in German). 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  50. ^ The Florence Foster Jenkins Story website. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  51. ^ Ralf Pleger website. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  52. ^ Rupert Christiansen, "La Donna del Lago, Royal Opera, Royal Opera House, review", The Telegraph (London), May 18, 2013
  53. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  54. ^ In War and Peace Project website, retrieved January 12, 2017

External linksEdit