Exclusive: One-take DiDonato tells how London almost killed her

Exclusive: One-take DiDonato tells how London almost killed her


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2018

In a revealing interview with Living the Classical Life, broadcast first on Slipped Disc, Joyce kicks off with how a leading personage in London’s musical establishment told her she had nothing to offer as an artist.

That was 20 years ago.

Joyce, with blazing Kansas git-go, turned London adversity into a learning experience.

‘We spend too much time trying to get it right,’ she now says.

Must watch.


  • John Rook says:

    Is Slipper Disc the armchair version of the website?

  • pianoronald says:

    Everybody interested in classical music should watch this interview: Joyce is not only one of today’s greatest singers but probably also one of the the most intelligent ones!

  • Eric says:

    Can we call this an exclusive if it’s technically published/made available by another outlet? Seems like this video series is offering the exclusive, not Slippedisc…..

    • Bruce says:

      By the time I saw this, the headline just says “Exclusive,” not “Slipped Disc Exclusive.” Maybe he changed it?

      I understood “exclusive” to mean that she spoke exclusively to Living The Classical Life (as opposed to giving several interviews on several different sites), not that SD produced the video…

    • norman lebrecht says:

      SD has an exclusive first-broadcast deal with LTCL.

      • Zsolt Bognar says:

        Indeed SD does have this partnership with LTCL, and we are very grateful that our episodes are first broadcast here to this diverse audience, before we announce them elsewhere. Thanks so much for watching and for your feedback!

      • Rog says:

        Any chance you can get Slipped Disc to tone down its sensationalist headlines, Zsolt? ‘Landon almost killed her’ is a gross misrepresentation of what she actually
        says on just about every level.

  • Ken Thompson says:

    Elizabeth Schwarzkopf told Renée Fleming she would never have a career. Some prediction!

    • John Borstlap says:

      But ES made a sport of humiliating students at master classes, probably following her own experience, and thus preparing them for the field.

      • Ruth says:

        Humiliating and demeaning students is never an appropriate way to teach. Students can be prepared for the difficulties (and even indignities) of their professional lives without harassment, humiliation, or debasement of any kind. (And if you need to watch gifted teaching, watch Joyce’s masterclasses. She is encouraging but honest with students at all levels of talent.)

      • Julie says:

        I don’t think it had much to do with ‘preparing them for the field’… ES was notorious for treating her colleagues horribly and stealing their thunder every chance she got, and having known singers who studied privately with her, I can say that from what they told me she was capable of being downright cruel to them too.

        • Una says:

          So why did they study with her and pay their money? Why didn’t they get someone else to teach them? I never had a cruel singing teacher in my life out of all the ones I had, and mostly all very well known too.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    At around 12’, I was very glad to hear Joyce talk about the artist’s current and historical need to offer commentary on the issues of the day. She talks about the “innate responses of creative people trying to make sense of their world”, and of being a citizen, not just an artist. She laments the sanitization of music today, and reminds us of the ”huge impact of music and the arts on the social fabric…”, listing operas that bordered on the revolutionary.

    Thank you, Joyce.

  • Olga says:

    I always admired Joyce as a wonderful singer, now I will admire her as a strong personality. She has real character and that helped her to overcome misjudgement and to build her career.

  • Fernando says:

    Anyone with three inches of brain and a bit of experience with the London scene can immediately figure out who she is talking about. That nasty little mediocre, nepotistic asshole who told her in a song competition that she had “nothing to offer” was, for my money, [redacted]. The same pathetic [redacted] who has built a career, in spite of being a rather mediocre pianist, thanks to the recording label [redacted] which he got someone else to fund for him, and which allowed him to single-handedly DESTROY the public’s appreciation of art song by pushing MEDIOCRE “artists” like himself to record and misrepresent the art song repertoire. “Singers” like Ian Bostridge, John Mark Ainsley, Stephen Varcoe, Martin Hill, Robin Tritschler and a huge array of other often monolingual, walking catalogues of vocal defects were pushed in detriment not just of genuine vocal talent but of the impression that the unsuspecting, general public got of the art song repertoire, which sounds AWFUL and BORING when sung by such crappy singers. And since the UK has such a strong monopoly of what goes on in the art song world, it is no wonder that they managed to destroy it and it is now in dire straits.

    • Rog says:

      Interesting that you choose not to name the pianist in question, but then choose to select five named singers for your own deeply unpleasant bile. I can’t imagine that Joyce di Donato would approve of your modus operandi here.

    • Julie says:

      Very curious to know who you are referring to!

  • Margaret Knight says:

    Wise words from a real person, not just a personality.

  • Ruth Steinberg says:

    What a pleasure to be in the audience for this insightful dialogue between a truly great artist (and human being) and a thoughtful interviewer.

    • Zsolt Bognar says:

      Many thanks, Ruth, for watching and for your feedback–we are very grateful! We hope you will continue to be in touch with us~

  • Giselle Clements says:

    I loved this interview!! Joyce is outstanding as a singer and a person – so inspired right now. Also loved the interviewer.

    • Zsolt Bognár says:

      Many thanks for watching and for your feedback, Giselle! We hope you will keep in touch with us here at Living the Classical Life.

  • Irmke says:

    Beautiful Interview: Min 18:
    The opposite of war is not peace but Creation. Very inspiring thought.
    Thank you very much.