In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?
This is the question American lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato asks with her newest album, prompted by the November 2015 Paris attacks. In War and Peace is a collection of baroque opera and oratorio arias by composers such as Handel, Purcell, and Monteverdi. The album just won a 2017 Gramophone Award. In a Gramophone Magazine interview, DiDonato said,
I don’t need to represent reality in this project. We have reality all around us. I want to show the ideal. So that’s why I put “Harmony through Music” in the title, because I think it’s becoming more true each day. The only things that make sense, the only sane place right now for many people, are the arts and music. It’s the one place where we can still be united.
Here is Joyce DiDonato’s performance of Lascia ch’io pianga (“Leave Me to Weep”) from the second act of Handel’s Rinaldo (1711). In the opera, the imprisoned Almirena sings this aria to her captor, Argante. DiDonato is accompanied by conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and Il Pomo d’Oro.
Photograph by Brooke Shaden