Even Kansas City sports fans love the elite opera star Joyce DiDonato, who grew up in the area and graduated from Bishop Miege High School in 1987.
DiDonato returns this weekend to perform with the Kansas City Symphony, interpreting works by Leonard Bernstein and Hector Berlioz while Michael Stern conducts.
Since becoming a star, DiDonato has used her prominent platform to advocate for social causes, including support for the LGBTQ community.
“As a citizen of the world in 2016, at times I am overwhelmed by the temptation to spiral down into the turmoil and pessimism that seemingly invades all corners of our lives, pulling me into the dispiriting din of upheaval which can devastate the spirit,” she wrote in the liner notes to “In War & Peace — Harmony through Music,” released that same year. “And yet, I’m a belligerent, proud, willing optimist.”
DiDonato was writing specifically about George Frideric Handel’s “Lascia ch'io pianga,” which she hoped would convey her resistance to pessimism.
“As I have tried to convey in this selection of music, the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us,” she wrote.
Her ravishing reading of the piece demonstrates DiDonato’s stunning command of her powerful mezzo-soprano voice — and the video demonstrates her astounding skill as an actor:
DiDonato is accompanied on “Lascia ch'io pianga” by il pomo d’oro, a European orchestra that specializes in opera. The Italian title of Handel’s popular aria loosely translates to “let my cry.”
Joyce DiDonato with the Kansas City Symphony, March 16-18 at Helzberg Hall, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri 64108; 816-471-0400.
KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.