Talented, glamorous and a 2012 Grammy Award winner, Kansas native Joyce DiDonato returns to Kansas City in an original production of The Capulets and The Montagues.
In The Capulets & The Montagues, you perform in the role of Romeo. What creative resources did you draw on to prepare for this role?
The main resource is Bellini, the composer, himself. It’s a slightly different take than the Shakespeare we all know and love, so I have to rely on seeing Romeo as Bellini saw him. He is 100 percent a teenage boy, so he’s very quick to turn on his emotions, with a high degree of volatility, and I don’t think Bellini shies away from that. But he also allows Romeo’s poetic, love-torn nature to come front and center as well.
Why do you think this classic story of doomed young lovers has retained its appeal across time, cultures and geography to appeal to so many people?
It’s a masterpiece, and a timeless story: ill-fated love. I think many people have had this happen in their lives, where they fall for someone they know they shouldn’t––and it’s equal parts agony and ecstasy. I think we also all want desperately to believe that their kind of pure love exists, and so we keep seeking it out in the theater, or on the operatic stage.
How do you and soprano Nicole Cabell (in the role of Giulietta) keep the dynamic between characters fresh with each performance?
With an artist like Nicole, it’s the easiest thing in the world! For me, the key is the same as in acting: it’s simply listening. You listen, and then you react. The beauty of working with Nicole again on this role, which she portrays in the most divine way, is that we now have the chance to let it season and develop and grow. So, far from getting stale, I think it will only get richer and more nuanced.
What is your favorite part about this opera production – the story, costumes, characters or other aspect?
All of it! Well, I suppose at the top of the list is the music, which is simply heart-wrenching. But I do so love the character of Romeo, in all his tempestuous angst and struggle. The wonderful thing about this production is that the audience will identify closely with these two young lovers; we will be in a contemporary age that leaves no boundaries in terms of understanding for the public.
For readers unfamiliar with bel canto, how would you describe this style of singing?
Simply put, it means “beautiful singing,” so the idea is that the voice––in a beautiful way––will convey the deepest, most profound human emotions possible. Music has that ability to penetrate the recesses of our hearts and souls more than almost any other medium, and I think when the music is traveling via the human voice—the most natural thing in the world––there is an even greater immediacy.
While in Kansas City, do you look forward to visiting any place in particular around your old stomping grounds?
I can’t wait to attend my first First Friday in years. Being a resident of the Crossroads, I’m thrilled to see it come to life as it has in the past ten years or so.