Following the success of her 2011 album, Diva Divo, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presents an exciting collection of virtuosic arias in her 2012 release on Virgin, Drama Queens. Drawing on royal roles in Baroque operas by Handel, Monteverdi, and Haydn, as well as selections from such minor composers as Orlandini, Porta, Keiser, Hasse, Cesti, and Giacomelli, DiDonato demonstrates both her impressive vocal abilities and a wide range of characterizations. Supported by the period ensemble Il Complesso Barocco, conducted by Alan Curtis, DiDonato sings with dynamic power and exquisite embellishments, executing runs and ornaments with sparkling brilliance and projecting her voice with ease. But even more important than her technical prowess is her charismatic presentation of these 17th and 18th century opera heroines, whose passionate emotions and exaggerated behavior are wonderfully realized in DiDonato's dramatic interpretations. Since Baroque opera has become something of a specialized interest of early music connoisseurs, DiDonato's album is a welcome introduction for listeners less familiar with this period, and her faithful performances make the era come to life with appealing freshness and vitality.
The Barr Brothers gave us a surprise outtakes EP with Alta Falls back in 2015, but the Montreal outfit are finally ready to deliver a proper full-length follow-up to 2014's Sleeping Operator. Titled Queens of the Breakers, the new LP is out October 13 via Secret City.