[Joyce DiDonato with “Si Romeo t’uccisse un figlio” at the Berlin Aids Gala, Nov. 2nd 2013. – Clip with thanks to Dragoslav S.]
World Aids Day is fast approaching (keep your donations ready for Dec. 1st!) and with it, the now 20th edition of the Berlin Aids Gala, a shiny annual benefit of operatic morsels in front of paying politicians and other celebrities. The event took place on November 2nd already, but was only now broadcast on TV (there will be a repeat bruadcast on rbb on Nov. 28th – no word yet on livestreaming or stream on demand). It’s got the ironic commentary of Max Raabe, and a few recurring favorites – notably Baroque coloratura soprano Simone Kermes, who sang 19th century belcanto this time around, and rocked it in her very unique style.
This year’s gala also features countertenor Bejun Mehta with a Mozart aria, also available on the YT channel of Dragoslav S, some tenor and soprano arias that didn’t really get me out of my chair, and, as final solo entry, Joyce DiDonato with the 1st Act Romeo cavatina.
It’s White Shirt Monday, so I don’t think we need excuses to post clips of Ms. DiDonato in a tux outfit and with enough swagger (vocal, physical… all the awards) to make the opera dyke community swoon in their seats. I’m just thankful that there are singers that fabulous and dedicated who simply choose their repertory based on their voices, and not based on gender (see yesterday’s rant).
Watching DiDonato perform, on a simple concert stage (well, it was the Deutsche Oper Berlin, a house that could use a serious overhaul), I was once more reminded why she ranks among my favorites: She is an extraordinary performer. It wasn’t the smoothest Romeo, perhaps, but Romeo isn’t supposed to be too smooth. It was a Romeo who was vibrant, and gripping, and nearly jumping off the stage in his intensity (in that sense, very Kasarovian). And, well… *swoon*
After that, they brought the obligatory “Libiamo” from “La Traviata” as a finale (we shall keep silent about the final can-can with its awkward half-staging), and it was very charming to see that among all the verismo-repertory singers, Mehta and DiDonato walked out with a score to join in. That’s right – Baroque/Belcanto singers don’t need THAT old ditty as a standard encore in their program.