(Virgin Classics)


Those who’ve seen Joyce DiDonato as Donna Elvira at Covent Garden know that the American singer “is one of the most flamboyantly dramatic mezzos in the business,” said Michael Church in the London Independent. DiDonato doesn’t do “simple pathos,” so it “comes as no surprise” that she’s chosen a selection of “angry arias” sung by Handel’s heroines. It’s a good choice, because she excels at “the rages and revenges” of Circe and Medea and delivers them “with brilliant, if exhausting, panache.” The results are “exhilarating,” said Hugh Canning in the London Times, although “purist Handelians will want to fasten their seat belts.” The mezzo is a “feisty” Juno from Semele, and—in two “trouser” roles—“an ardent Sesto from Giulio Cesare, and spectacular in the pyrotechnics of Tirinto’s Sorge nell’alma mia from Imeneo.” DiDonato has the “technical bravura and expressive lucidity of a great interpreter,” said Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle. More than that, she knows how to entertain, providing a “wealth of dramatic potency and musical color” on every track.