Album: Joyce DiDonato, Drama Queens (Virgin Classics)

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The Independent Culture

For the follow-up to her Grammy-winning Diva Divo, Joyce DiDonato offers an anthology of suitably impassioned royal roles from Baroque operas, their emotional scope ranging from the giddy flush of love evoked by her tremulous coloratura and swooning fades as Berenice in Orlandini's "Da torbida procella", to the self-sacrifice of Porta's Ifigenia, rendered with such poised nobility in "Madre diletta, abbracciami".

Particularly impressive are Handel's ebullient sorceress Alcina, a self-determining spirit willing to wield power in "Ma quando tornerai", and the Empress Octavia of Monteverdi's "Disprezzata regina", in which the dramatic fury of the recitative militates against its resolution into melody.

Download: Da torbida procella; Disprezzata regina; Ma quando tornerai