Joyce DiDonato has always been fearlessly honest, or at least, has the courage to be honest, though it may cost her a great deal emotionally to get over her fear. I don't know, but I do know that her bravery has helped, and is helping, many young people. Recently she talked to The Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen about her work with young singers,
I advise them not to attempt to turn the sound they make into something it isn't – don't try to be Bartoli or Pavarotti. I did that when I was 25 and it got me into trouble. Have the confidence to be yourself and shed the pretence: that's something I feel I've only learnt recently myself.
How many singers at the height of their career would reveal so much. This sort of self-analyzing usually comes in the autobiography when the career is over… if at all.
She doesn't fear the marketing men, publicists (or journalists) either,
Stop apologising, stop trying to sell our music by dumbing it down. Sell opera on the basis that it is like nothing else on the planet, not on the basis that it's superficially cool and hip – that is so phoney.
Now she's taking on Putin and the so-called anti-gay laws. Singing the only signature song a girl from Kansas could have – Somewhere Over the Rainbow – she is dedicating her performance at tonight's Last Night of the Proms to the homosexuals whose expression is being suppressed. This is what she has written on her blog:
On Saturday night I will be the honored guest of the BBC Proms and will lend my voice to the greatest party for Classical Music on the planet: the Last Night of the Proms. I am MOST honored and feel incredibly humbled to be asked to take part. We programmed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” ages ago, but as the Russian law came into focus and I felt this impending sense of dread wash over me, I knew that I simply had to personally dedicate my performance on Saturday to all of those brave, valorous gay and lesbian souls whose voices are currently being silenced – either by family, friends, or by their government. As I've done in the past, this is a very individual dedication made only here (not on the stage of the glorious Royal Albert Hall), but I do invite you all to use your own voice, in whatever (safe!) capacity you can, and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves at this moment.
This simply cannot stand. We are TRULY better than this. And it is the very least I can do to repay my wonderful life-teachers who have supported me, lifted me up, and quite simply, made me a better person. Here's to knowing your own worth … Here's to daring to dream … Here's to flying over the rainbow and, of course, to being utterly fabulous while soaring!!
As one (of many) blog comments said,
Thank you for your inspirational and heartfelt words. So proud of your compassionate warrior spirit.
We all are.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
So Joyce Dumbnutto has walked out on her contracts in Russia in protest against… remind me, a guy in the city of Perm being fined $120 for holding an unauthorised protest??
But is Joyce going to continue to perform in America? The country which murdered a million innocent civilians in Iraq? The country which continues an illegal occupation of Afghanistan? The country which runs the world’s LAST GULAG at Gitmo?? Where men are illegally imprisoned, tortured, and murdered?? The country which bugged the entire world’s emails and listened in on them??
Because you know that, Joyce? We’ve got mezzo-sopranos waaay better than you here in Russia. We don’t need torture-mongering second-rate warblers like you. You take your Over The Rainbow, and shove it up your [removed by moderator].
GUESS YOU AIN’T IN KANSAS NOW, ARE YOU, JOYCE???????????
If your religion doesn’t forbid it, please kill yourself. Soon.
Just because Ms DiDonato has a particular interest in gay rights in this gesture she made, doesn’t say anything whatsoever about what she thinks about Afghanistan, firearms, vivisection or famine. I happen to do charity work for abandoned animals, and because I don’t work for a charity which helps abused children doesn’t mean that I don’t care or have an opinion. We can’t do everything, and each one of us chooses things that are close to our heart for some reason or other. The comment by “Moscow, Russia” just isn’t a logical one.
Olga (from Moscow, Russia!)
In Alex Ross’s long article on Joyce DiDonato for The New Yorker earlier this month, he writes:
She is aware of the pitfalls of artists activism. “I have to choose my battles – I’m no politician, ” she told me. “I know that, as an American artist, I’m not in a position to sit in judgement. Should I not sing in Texas, because of what’s happening to women’s rights there? But I can’t paralyze myself, either. I don’t know if turning down the opera in Moscow was the right decision. Should I have gone there and spoken out? Should I have got myself detained? If I don’t go, does it mean they’re winning? In the end, it was just an instinctive thing. I couldn’t do it.”