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Another singer not afraid to let simplicity speak for itself is Joyce DiDonato, whose In War and Peace doesn’t just contrast Baroque arias from opposite sides of the same coin, but aims to start us questioning our own stance by asking, ‘How do you find peace?’. Any initial suspicion of Joyce Saves the World are overcome by her obvious sincerity and also by her clever choice of music: singing female characters with the exception of Handel’s Sesto (Giulio Cesare) she takes her programme beyond the obvious binary opposition into a series of contrasts and emotional conflicts. Thus the seemingly serene beauty of ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Handel’s Rinaldo is in fact a plea for freedom in a time of war, whereas the aggressive bravura of Cleopatra’s ‘Da tempeste il legno infrante’ (Giulio Cesare) demonstrates her euphoria in finding safety, or peace. DiDonato’s vocal attack is fearless, her range of vocal colours immense – not many singers would risk such extremes of dynamics and manipulation of vibrato without sounding mannered, but somehow she pulls it off.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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