Dashing in to Carnegie Hall yesterday to shelter from the rain, I found Joyce DiDonato in a ninth-floor studio rehearsing her set for a jailhouse show.
Carnegie has been running a program at the Sing-Sing correctional facility for the past nine years, encouraging lifers and long-term prisoners to play and compose music. When Joyce heard of it she yelped ‘I’m in’ (that Kansas girl goes places no mezzo’s been before.)
Aside from opera arias, among the numbers she will sing in Sing-Sing is a ballad by Kenyatta Hughes, serving 18 years for serious offences. Hughes will be onstage with Joyce, a string quartet and an improv band.
There will be 350 prisoners in the hall. A captive audience, if you like.