Performance Wednesday, March 18, 2015 | 8 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Please note that soprano Nicole Cabell has withdrawn from this performance due to illness. Laura Claycomb has graciously agreed to perform in her place.

A highlight of Joyce DiDonato’s Perspectives series is this celebration of music from the bel canto era. Curated by the mezzo-soprano, this evening of arias, ensembles, and orchestral selections ranges from Rossini and Bellini to surprising gems by lesser-known composers of the time. Joining The Philadelphia Orchestra is a lineup of well-known bel canto stars: soprano Laura Claycomb, tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and conductor Maurizio Benini.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra
    Maurizio Benini, Conductor
  • Laura Claycomb, Soprano
  • Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Lawrence Brownlee, Tenor


  • ROSSINI Overture to Aureliano in Palmira
  • CARAFA "L'amica ancor non torna ... Oh, di sorte crudel" from Le nozze di Lammermoor
  • DONIZETTI "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore
  • DONIZETTI "Prendi, per me sei libero" from L'elisir d'amore
  • PACINI "Ove t'aggiri, o barbaro" from Stella di Napoli
  • BELLINI "Oh! quante volte" from I Capuleti e i Montecchi
  • BELLINI "Ah! mia Giulietta" from I Capuleti e i Montecchi
  • DONIZETTI "La maîtresse du roi... Ange si pur" from La favorite
  • ROSSINI "Reidi al soglio" from Zelmira

  • Encore:
  • ROSSINI “À la faveur de cette nuit obscure” from Le comte Ory

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra

    The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of imagination and innovation on and off the concert stage. The orchestra is transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging--and exceeding--that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

    Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin's highly collaborative style, deeply rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike since his inaugural season in 2012. Under his leadership, the orchestra returned to recording with a celebrated CD of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions on the Deutsche Grammophon label, continuing its history of recording success. The orchestra also reaches thousands of listeners on the radio with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

    Philadelphia is home, and the orchestra nurtures an important relationship with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center, and also with those who enjoy the orchestra's other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn's Landing, and other cultural, civic, and learning venues. The orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level.

    Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, while also enjoying summer residencies in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Vail, Colorado.

    The Philadelphia Orchestra has a decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages. The orchestra's recent initiative, the Fabulous Philadelphians Offstage--Philly Style!, has taken musicians off the traditional concert stage and into the community, including highly successful Pop-Up concerts, PlayINs, SingINs, and ConductINs. The orchestra's musicians--in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors--serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music, nurturing and celebrating the wealth of musicianship in the Philadelphia region. For more information, please visit

    Maurizio Benini

    After studying composition and orchestral conducting, Italian conductor Maurizio Benini made his debut at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna with Rossini's Il signor Bruschino. His debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan took place in 1992 with Rossini's La donna del lago. He is a regular guest at many of the world's most prestigious opera houses, including La Scala; Opéra de Paris; Vienna State Opera; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; Teatro Real in Madrid; Metropolitan Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse; Opéra de Monte-Carlo; and La Fenice in Venice. He frequently performs at the Glyndebourne and Edinburgh festivals, as well as other prominent international festivals. Mr. Benini was principal conductor at the Filarmonici del Teatro Comunale di Bologna between 1984 and 1991 and at the Wexford Festival Opera from 1995 to 1997. More recent posts include principal conductor at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile and principal guest conductor at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. Tonight marks his Philadelphia Orchestra debut.

    Mr. Benini recently conducted Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at the Gran Teatre del Liceu starring Joyce DiDonato. This spring, he leads Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera. Past performance highlights include Rossini's Le comte Ory and Il barbiere di Siviglia and Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Met; Verdi's Stiffelio, Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, and Catalani's La Wally at Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Puccini's Tosca and Verdi's Nabucco at the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardern; Lucia di Lammermoor at the Théâtre du Capitole; Rossini's Il turco in Italia in Munich; Gounod's Faust at the Hungarian State Opera; and Verdi's Il trovatore at the Dutch National Opera.

    Mr. Benini has made numerous recordings with the Opera Rara label and with Deutsche Grammophon. Recent discs include Rossini's La Cenerentola on Deutsche Grammophon. In 2012, music critics in the Spanish press awarded him the title Best Conductor of the Season for his interpretation of Adriana Lecouvreur staged at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

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  • Joyce DiDonato

    Winner of the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo, Kansas-born mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is making her Philadelphia Orchestra debut. She has soared to the top of the industry both as a performer and as a fierce arts advocate, gaining international prominence in operas by Rossini, Handel, and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging discography. Much in demand on the concert and recital circuit, Ms. DiDonato holds residencies this season at Carnegie Hall and the Barbican Centre in London. She recently completed a recital tour of South America. She has also appeared in concert and recital in Berlin, Vienna, Milan, Toulouse, Mexico City, and Aspen, and as guest singer at the BBC's Last Night of the Proms at London's Royal Albert Hall.

    Ms. DiDonato's signature parts include the bel canto roles of Rossini, and she is currently singing Elena in La donna del lago at the Metropolitan Opera. Other highlights this season include Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi in her native Kansas City, the title role in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda in Barcelona, the title role in Handel's Alcina with The English Concert, and Marguerite in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Last season, she appeared as Cinderella in Massenet's Cendrillon in Barcelona and Rossini's La Cenerentola at the Met, Sesto in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the title role of Maria Stuarda at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

    An exclusive recording artist with Erato / Warner Classics, Ms. DiDonato's most recent recording, Stella di Napoli, includes little-known gems alongside music by Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti. Her Grammy Award-winning recording Diva Divo comprises arias by male and female characters. Other recordings include Drama Queens and a retrospective of her first 10 years of recordings entitled ReJoyce! Ms. DiDonato's honors include the Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, two German ECHO Klassik awards as Female Singer of the Year, and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.

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  • Lawrence Brownlee

    American tenor Lawrence Brownlee began the 2014-2015 season with a return to Seattle Opera for his role debut as Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni. He then returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Count Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, which was broadcast as part of the Live in HD series. His other season highlights include Don Ramiro in Rossini's La Cenerentola in Zurich, his role debut as Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte with the Bavarian State Opera, the Italian Tenor in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier in Baden-Baden, Tonio in Donizetti's La fille du régiment with Pittsburgh Opera, and the title role in the world premiere of Daniel Schnyder's Charlie Parker's Yardbird--a work written for him. He will also perform recitals in Fort Worth, Akron, and Lawrence, Kansas.

    Mr. Brownlee's discography continues to grow. In 2013, Delos released Virtuoso Rossini Arias, a collection of lesser-known arias. The critically acclaimed album Spiritual Sketches features 10 traditional spirituals arranged by Damien Sneed. In 2012, EMI released a recording of Rossini's Stabat Mater featuring Mr. Brownlee, soprano Anna Netrebko, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and bass Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, with Antonio Pappano leading the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Mr. Brownlee was also featured on a pair of DVDs: the Metropolitan Opera's 2010 Live in HD relay of Handel's Armida on Decca, and Orff's Carmina burana with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker on EuroArts / Opus Arte.

    In addition to being a winner at the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mr. Brownlee was named Seattle Opera's 2008 Artist of the Year, received the Opera Company of Philadelphia's 2007 Alter Award for Artistic Excellence, and was the winner of both the 2006 Marian Anderson Award from the Kennedy Center and the Richard Tucker Award, a feat never before achieved by any artist in the same year. An Ohio native, Mr. Brownlee received a bachelor of arts degree from Anderson University and a master of music degree from Indiana University. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2012.

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"Fra il padre, e fra l'amante" from Rossini's La donna del lago
Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-Soprano | Orchestra dell'accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia | Edoardo Muller, Conductor

At a Glance

Italian opera in the 18th century focused increasingly on the integrity of the dramatic narrative, allowing the music to support the story rather than serving as an end in itself. Significantly, though, most of those developments were instituted by foreign composers, including Handel, Gluck, and Mozart. It was probably only a matter of time before the Italians themselves reclaimed the lead in the evolution of opera, a genre that, of course, they had invented in the first place. And that resurgence of opera composed by Italians was, from the 1820s to the 1840s, characterized by a concentration on beautiful singing—bel canto—above all other considerations.

Today, three names dominate the bel canto repertory: Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Vincenzo Bellini. But many other composers also played important roles in its development and enjoyed popular success alongside their better-known contemporaries. Without the contributions of Saverio Mercadante, Michele Carafa, Giovanni Pacini, Nicola Vaccai, Gioacchino Cocchi, the Ricci brothers (Luigi and Federico), and even the young Giacomo Meyerbeer (who studied in Italy and had his first international success there), bel canto opera wouldn’t have enjoyed the same degree of success and influence.

What unites the music of all these composers is a concentrated attention to the long and smooth vocal line, even tone across a singer’s registers, and flawless technique, all supported by unobtrusive orchestral accompaniments. And if some of the opera’s dramatic integrity was sacrificed, or the narrative pacing interrupted by this attention to the pathos and lyrical beauty of the voice, then so be it. That’s precisely what these composers were aiming for, and they succeeded brilliantly at it.
Program Notes


Joyce DiDonato: bel canto and new repertoire

Perspectives: Joyce DiDonato
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