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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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This kind of release gets under my skin in so many ways that I perhaps sometimes fail to appreciate the singing itself, so let me start by stipulating that Joyce DiDonato is a fine singer. What isn't so evident on a release like this is the fact that she's a fine singing actress -- her Elvira in the Keenlyside "Don Giovanni" (on DVD) is as good as it gets, and her Rosina in "Barbiere" is a delight. The voice itself has a lovely quality without being particularly characterful, to my ears -- so if you buy this, play it three or four songs at a time. It is basically a collection made up of selections from earlier collections, and it has the blandness that one often finds in a sequence of solos recorded as "greatest hits" rather than as parts of a developing dramatic structure. The excerpts here from complete opera recordings are more vividly done than the excerpts from the collections. One notices too a different sound-picture -- not that that's bad, except in the case of the Heggie ("Dead Man Walking"), where the voices sound a bit veiled in what, I guess, was a recording of a live performance. I also find it irritating that no texts are provided -- many of the selections here are not nearly as well known as "La donna e mobile," and the listener needs the text and a few words about the dramatic situation to orient him or her properly to what's being sung. I assume that DiDonato fans already have the individual collections from which so many of these numbers come, and these collections do provide texts and information. Given that the likely purchaser of this set is probably less familiar with the music, it would seem that texts would be especially useful here. I know . . . costs. But this set of already-released material surely wants to be more than another cynical business decision by Erato executives.

OK -- you see where my pet peeves are! There are some previously unpublished things here -- the musical selections at the end. They're well recorded but sung rather too reverently ("You'll Never Walk Alone" is VERY slow) and they show DiDonato taxed at the bottom of her voice: there isn't a lot of richness and color there. When she gets up into the middle of the voice and higher, she comes into her own. So -- more power to her, the best American mezzo since Susan Graham . . . but find a way, live or on DVD, to see her on stage.
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on 7 November 2013
This is a splendid collection of Joyce DiDonato's recordings. There are wonderful interpretations of Handel and Mozart together with popular pieces from Rodgers and Hammerstein. DiDonato is that rare singer these days a mezzo-soprano with a superb lower range. The recording quality enhances the fine singing.
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on 25 August 2015
My reaction to this double CD set of mostly operatic arias is a mixture of admiration and exasperation. First, the admiration : there is little doubt that Joyce DiDonato is an outstanding mezzo-soprano who combines a formidable technique with considerable interpretative powers, particularly in the Baroque and bel canto repertoires. Thus the first CD here is given over mainly to Handel and his contemporaries, these latter being unfamiliar names (at least to me) such as Porta and Orlandini. The second CD offers a somewhat wider perspective : not only Rossini and Bellini but Gluck, Mozart, Berlioz and Strauss. To demonstrate the artist's versatility and catholicity it also includes two extracts from a modern American opera, Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie (another unfamiliar name), two songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein and a live performance of Over The Rainbow given before an obviously adoring audience in the artist's home town of Kansas City. Beautifully sung though this is, it is too unidiomatic to be really persuasive. Nevertheless, there is a great deal, indeed, to admire. But now the exasperation : the programme booklet provides no texts whatsoever and scarcely any information about the individual tracks, when it seemed obvious that, for example, the rarity of some of these needed special mention of their provenance. What are provided are acres of promotional material, including four pages of Discography, five pages of 'Photos by Joyce's fans from all over the world' and three pages of 'Quotes from Joyce's fans' (Joyce's voice is pure balm for the wounded soul !'). I have noticed a tendency for 'celebrity' discs like these to be packaged in the same way so that there is far too much information about the artist and far too little about the music. That is not to denigrate the former but to suggest that there is an undesirable imbalance in the presentation (even though, in this case, the selection of items from the artist's recordings and the set's rather obvious overall title have been suggested by the fans themselves.) For anyone not a member of 'The Fan Club', it will be best just to concentrate on the fabulous singing.
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on 9 February 2014
The more I hear her voice the more I love it. I am not an opera fan but love the female voice especially this one! I am completely blown away by Miss DiDonato's voice and her choice of repertoire. UTTERLY SUBLIME MUSIC MAKING. Thank you Miss D.
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on 19 June 2014
This 2 CD-set is a collection of arias chosen from an online poll by Joyce di Donato. The selection is excellent, ranging from Handel arias to Somewhere over the Rainbow. Each piece is sung with characteristic brilliance by di Donato. This set is very good value and is a great record of beautiful singing.
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on 21 October 2013
Never heard of her before the Last Night of the Proms. Stunned by the quality of her voice. Bought this as a reminder. Her voice and the record are outstanding.
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on 19 September 2013
Wow what a product,a good price a lovley lady with lots of talent the quality of the sound is excelent
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on 16 November 2013
CD 1 is my personal favourite. For me too many cross over tracks and I dislike the sugar coated American stuff
Good retro on her spectacular career and voice !!!
Brava ,,,
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on 8 December 2013
Ever since I saw and heard her at the Last Night of the proms, I am a devoted fans. What a voice to suit a great personality.
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on 8 November 2013
Fabulous! She has an amazing voice,and presence. So glad I bought this CD; go out and get a copy yourelf
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