- Attilio Regolo, opera: Par che di giubilo
- Attilio Regolo, opera: Sprezza il furor del vento
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has gained a strong following with novel, even fearless programs, flawlessly executed. The stimulus for In War & Peace was extramusical: DiDonato temporarily shelved a different project in the wake of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. The concept is ambitious: the booklet includes quotes about finding peace from figures as varied as Patrick Stewart, Riccardo Muti, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and an inmate at New York's Sing Sing prison. Does it directly connect with DiDonato's program of Baroque arias? Listeners will have to decide for themselves, but the good news is that the program stands on its own. War and peace are among the most common themes in Baroque opera, but DiDonato has woven them together intelligently here. For one thing, the two interpenetrate, with elevated tragic arias in the War half of the program, and complex dramatic conceptions in the Peace half. Sample Handel's remarkable "Augelletti, che cantante," from "Rinaldo," with its sopranino recorder part and discursive development. Added bonuses are some world-premiere arias from the still largely unexplored corpus of opera seria from the middle 18th century, represented by compositions of Leonardo Leo and Niccolò Jommelli. Equally good are the big hits, including a magnificent, deliberate "When I am laid in earth," from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas," which shows the breadth of DiDonato's conceptualizations of war and peace. The accompaniment from the historical-instrument group Il Pomo d'Oro under Maxim Emelyanychev is ideal. Recommended, whatever your views on the feasibility of world peace.