Joyce Didonato & Il pomo d'oro Concert


In War and Peace. Harmony through Music

Watch the concert live via ARTE Concert

The pendulum of human history has continuously swung between despair and hope, horror and bliss, chaos and tranquility. We are a restless bunch, prone to desperation, isolation and violence in some moments, and yet, mercifully, to optimism and generosity in others.

As a citizen of the world in 2016, at times I am overwhelmed by the temptation to spiral down into the turmoil and pessimism that seemingly invades all corners of our lives, pulling me into the dispiriting din of upheaval which can devastate the spirit. And yet, I’m a belligerent, proud, willing optimist. I resist.

And so I ask myself: Is it possible to find a sincere and lasting peace within such deafening chaos? And if so, how can I access it? Is there an alternative to simply surrendering to the inevitable noise and our base fears, instead choosing serenity, audaciously silencing those fears?

For centuries, creators of great art have been depicting atrocity and pandemonium alongside tranquility and harmony for centuries, boldly showing us both our brutal nature and our elevated humanity. Art unifies, transcends borders, connects the disconnected, eliminates status, soothes turmoil, threatens power and the status-quo, and gloriously exalts the spirit. Art is a valiant path to peace.

With the help of Handel and Purcell, among other masters, I respectfully invite you look at the interwoven worlds of external conflict and serenity, internal war and peace, and to contemplate where you wish to reside within yourself.

As I have tried to convey in this selection of music, the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us.

And so I ask you: In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?

Artistic profile

Joyce Didonato, mezzo-soprano
Il Pomo d'Oro
Director and harpsichord
Maxim Emelyanichev
Choreography and dancer
Manuel Palazzo
Stage Director
Ralf Pleger
Lighting Designer
Henning Blum
Video Designer
Yousef Iskandar
Tour Management
Askonas Holt
Video designer
Yousef Iskandar
Greeting Cards
Joyce DiDonato’s gowns
Manuel Palazzo’s costume
Lasha Rostobaia

Joyce DiDonato would like to thank The Pure Land Foundation for its generous support.

She would also like to thank Five Arts Foundation as recommended by Helen Berggruen, Susan and John Singer, Helen and Peter Bing, The Howard and Sarah D Solomon Foundation and Marnie and Kern Wildenthal for their additional support.

Information of Interest



Georg Friedrich Händel
“Scenes of horror, scenes of woe” (Storgé)
Jeptha. HWV 70  (1752)

Leonardo Leo
“Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro!” (Andromaca)
Andromaca (1742)

Emilio de’ Cavalieri
Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo (1600) (instrumental)

Henry Purcell
Chaconne in G minor for three violins and bass
Z730 (instrumental)

Henry Purcell
“When I am laid in earth” (Lament de Dido)
Dido and Aeneas. Z626 . (1689)      

Georg Friedrich Händel
“Pensieri, voi mi tormentate” (Agrippina)
Agrippina HWV 6  (1709)

Carlo Gesualdo
“Tristis est anima mea”
Tenebrae Responsoria No. 2. (1611)          

Georg Friedrich Händel
“Lascia ch´io pianga” (Almirena)
Rinaldo. HWV 7. (1711)



Henry Purcell
“They tell us that you mighty powers” (Orazia)
The Indian Queen. Z630  (1695)      

Georg Friedrich Händel
“Crystal streams in murmurs flowing” (Susanna)
Susanna. HWV 66.  (1749)

Arvo Pärt
Da pacem, Domine. (2004)

Georg Friedrich Händel
“Augelletti, che cantate” (Almirena)
Rinaldo. HWV 7. (1711)

Georg Friedrich Händel
“Da tempeste il legno infranto” (Cleopatra)
Giulio Cesare. HWV 7 (1724)

In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?

In the Torah, the story teller says “God said let there be light.” One would have to reason that God Himself was dwelling in the darkness. Light’s speed is inescapable and it’s also necessary. When the need catches up to us, it is blinding and painful. After several moments, our vision steadies through blinking…returning to the darkness.

The light reveals what is in the dark corners. We are standing in pitch black corners in charcoal skin, cloaked in murky sack cloth. We are bleeding. We are swollen. We do not speak. Blood flows slowly tickling and trickling down our brokenness. Inflamed skin stands tall, as swollen as battered Rubenesque models. Our cry is loud. As loud as hip hop braille against the finger tips of chain mail gloved hands.

In this chaos we are fully exposed. We can see the concentric circles do-si-do around our eyes, as red X’s on a failed exam. They are evidence of the chaos. Perhaps our hands were too slow to guard the eye. Perhaps our head was too slow to evade the blow. Like flashes on impact, enlightening us to our faults. The fallibility teaches us to put our hands up. As our hands rise, so do we. As our hands rise, so do our expectations. As our hands rise, we view unprotected people in chaos and find our peace in being models of brokenness made strong in the darkness and the burning light.
Joe Wilson, Currently incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, USA

“By keeping in the front of my mind words penned by Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker (1810– 1860) and used to great effect by Martin Luther King: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’”
Ruth Bader GinsburgAssociate Justice of the US Supreme Court

Describing peace as ‘found’ is apt: it is a place always available, a state born of knowing my place in this existence, and trusting an invested God. Chaos and confusion are distractions. When we mindfully and patiently observe circumstances and events with an eye toward the people involved, and with confidence that love is triumphant, we realise that what seems like disorder is actually the manifestation of a pattern so intricate that we can’t discern its design. Peace comes as confidence in spite of chaos.
Kenyatta Hughes, currently incarcerated at Sing Sing Correctional Facility

Peace is found in a walk in solitude upon a shore, listening to the breaths of the ocean, feeling the shifting sands underfoot, looking at the sun setting, and with it the end of a day, knowing that with the blessing of Allah, tomorrow will be a better day. True peace is the peace within.
Dr Fahad AlKindi, Geophysicist for Petroleum Development in Oman

When surrounded by chaos, I see people in need and then I find myself amongst the most fortunate, blessed people. This brings me peace.
Sonu, Student from one of India’s Leprosy Colonies

Find a way to overpower our criminal government. That’s what our movement Intellectuals Unite (IoU – We owe you a world) is trying to do. We want to stop the chaos and wrecking, and find peace.
Vivienne Westwood, Fashion Designer, Icon, Activist

I find peace and hope in a rainy city where refugee people find the warmth and strength to paint sunflowers.
Sita, 8, Refugee, Painter

We musicians bring Harmony, Beauty and Peace to the world. The ancient Greeks used to say that everything that evokes Beauty is also Good and Just, and vice versa. Through music, we must find these elements to feed humanity around the world – to bring Harmony and Peace to people through Love: Love that, as Dante says, ‘moves the Sun and the other stars’.
Riccardo Muti, Conductor

I find peace by making music. And love. All day Sunday. Ronnie, Streetwise Opera Performer for the Homeless in London By hugging trees and kissing donkeys. Cows can do the job as well: they have very soft lips.
Michaël Borremans, Painter, Filmmaker

In the midst of chaos, it is the contemplation of the perfection of Nature that brings me peace. Nature’s had hundreds of millions of years to get things right, and it has. Mankind’s made a mess, but Nature will make things right again. It might take another hundred million years, but Nature’s got lots of time.
Donna Leon, Writer

For outer peace each one of us has to find her or his inner peace. Silence is the beginning and the end of all music and we have to treasure that in this very noisy world of ours.
Sir András Schiff, Pianist

In the midst of battle the smoke will always clear, the gunfire always stops, and the skies always clear. All we can do is mentally prepare for the next wave and hope it never comes.
Corporal Aaron Bono, USMC (Iraq 2003, Afghanistan 2004)

I spend time with friends, family, and loved ones, as love is the reason of life and life is the reason of love. They are the ones who will turn your chaos into peace.
Victor Palazzo, 11; Beirut

I don’t think music should all be about peace – there are some vivid depictions of chaos from Rebel’s Les Élémens to Haydn’s Creation. But for the intensity of peace, it is difficult to beat Handel’s secular vision of pastoral calm in L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, or those countless Mass settings which end with the plea ‘Dona nobis pacem’ – best of all Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, at once anguished and utterly serene.
Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre


JOYCE DIDONATO, mezzo-soprano

Kansas-born Joyce DiDonato won Grammy awards for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album (Joyce and Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall) in 2016 and in 2012 (Diva, Divo). She engages audiences across the globe, and has been proclaimed ‘perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation’ by The New Yorker. She is acclaimed not only as a performer but also as a fierce advocate for the arts, and has attained international prominence in operas by Handel and Mozart, as well as through her wide-ranging, award-winning discography. She is also widely acclaimed for the bel canto roles of Rossini and Donizetti, most recently Elena (La donna del lago) at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Much in demand on the concert and recital circuit, she has recently held residencies at Carnegie Hall and at here at the Barbican Centre, toured extensively in South America, Europe and Asia and appeared as guest soloist at the Last Night of the BBC Proms. Recent highlights in opera have included her first Charlotte (Werther) for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, under Sir Antonio Pappano, the title-role in Maria Stuarda at the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera and at the Liceu in Barcelona; the title-role in Alcina on tour with The English Concert and Harry Bicket and Marguerite (La damnation de Faust) with the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. This season began with a gala concert with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Ludovic Morlot; she also gives concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and the Berlin Philharmonic under Yannick NézetSéguin; and a recital with Philippe Jordan in Paris. On the opera stage, she makes her debut in the title-role of Semiramide in a new production at the Bavarian State Opera under Michele Mariotti; the title-role in Ariodante on tour with The English Concert and Harry Bicket; Dido (Les Troyens) under John Nelsons in Strasbourg; and Sesto (La clemenza di Tito) under Nézet-Séguin in BadenBaden. She makes her off-Broadway debut in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, the internationally acclaimed play by Nassim Soleimanpour. Joyce DiDonato is an exclusive recording artist with Erato/Warner Classics. Her latest album – In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music – has just been released and is accompanied by a 20-city international tour (of which tonight’s concert is a part) that poses the question: in the midst of chaos, how do you find peace? Other highlights of her discography include Stella di Napoli, a bel canto banquet including little-known gems alongside music by Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti, and her Grammy-Award-winning recording Diva, Divo, which comprises arias by male and female characters, celebrating the rich dramatic world of the mezzo-soprano. The following recording Drama Queens was exceptionally well received, both on disc and on several international tours. A retrospective of her first 10 years of recordings entitled ReJoyce! was released last year. Other honours include the Gramophone Artist of the Year and Recital of the Year awards, three German ECHO Klassik Awards as Female Singer of the Year, and an induction into the Gramophone Hall of Fame.


Il Pomo d’Oro is an orchestra founded in 2012 with a special focus on opera, but equally committed to instrumental performance in various formations. Its musicians are among the finest period-instrumentalists to be found worldwide. Together, they form an ensemble that combines stylistic knowledge, the highest technical skill and artistic integrity.

The group’s collaboration with violinist and conductor Riccardo Minasi led to an award-winning first recording (Vivaldi violin concertos, ‘L’imperatore’). A second recording of Vivaldi’s violin concertos ‘per Pisendel’ with Dmitry Sinkovsky as soloist and conductor, won a Diapason d’Or. In 2012, Il Pomo d’Oro also recorded three solo CDs with three countertenors – Max Emanuel Cencic (Venezia), Xavier Sabata (Bad Guys) and Franco Fagioli (Arias for Caffarelli) – under Minasi’s direction. The last of these was awarded the ‘Choc de l’année 2013’ by the French magazine Classica. A further contribution to Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition was a recording of concertos for two violins with Minasi and Sinkovsky, which was released in October 2013. In conjunction with a book by Donna Leon about the Venetian gondola, Il Pomo d’Oro recorded a collection of ancient Venetian barcarole, sung by Vincenzo Capezzuto. A recital of various Agrippina arias with the Swedish mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, directed by Minasi, was released in 2015 and presented in various concerts in Germany, Italy and Spain. The ensemble’s most recent vocal albums are Arie Napoletane with Max Emanuel Cencic and Joyce DiDonato’s In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music (both directed by Maxim Emelyanychev).

Il Pomo d’Oro has recorded three operas: Handel’s Tamerlano and Partenope and Vinci’s Catone in Utica, all directed by Riccardo Minasi. Further instrumental recordings include Haydn’s concertos for harpsichord and violin, co-directed by Maxim Emelanychev as harpsichord soloist and Riccardo Minasi as violin soloist (released earlier this year) and a cello recital with Edgar Moreau featuring works by Haydn, Boccherini, Platti, Graziani and Vivaldi, which was released in November 2015.

Il Pomo d’Oro has performed at all the major European venues and festivals, including the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris; Versailles’ Théâtre Royal; the Wigmore Hall; Theater an der Wien and in Madrid, Barcelona, St Petersburg, Geneva, St Moritz, Copenhagen, Potsdam, Schwetzingen, Beaune, Cologne, Hamburg, Göttingen, Halle and Gstaad, among others.

Last year it toured with Joyce DiDonato to Asia and Max Emanuel Cencic to the US. Highlights this year have included tours of Partenope and Rinaldo; concerts with Max Emanuel Cencic, Edgar Moreau, the Labèque sisters, Emöke Barath and Valer Sabadus and with Vincenzo Capezzuto and Donna Leon; and the current project with Joyce DiDonato. Further recordings in 2016 include Handel’s Ottone and a new recital of Venetian music with Ann Hallenberg. On 1 January this year the Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev was appointed principal conductor of Il Pomo d’Oro. In the future, the orchestra will also work with conductors Stefano Montanari and George Petrou.

MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV, director and harpsichord

Maxim Emelyanychev is a member of a new generation of conductors who have gained early recognition.

Born in 1988 to a family of musicians, he first studied conducting at the Nizhny Novgorod Music School then continued his education at the Moscow State Conservatory in the conducting class of Gennady Rozhdestvensky and the fortepiano and harpsichord class of Maria Uspenskaya.

He is a prize-winner of numerous international competitions, among them the Hans von Bülow Piano Competition (Meiningen, 2012), Musica Antica Harpsichord Competition (Bruges, 2010) and Volkonsky Harpsichord Competition (Moscow, 2010).

He made his conducting debut at the age of 12 and has since conducted both period-instrument and symphonic orchestras. He is the creator and leader of the Veritas Chamber Orchestra and in the field of Baroque music leads Novosibirsk’s Musica Aeterna and Il Pomo d’Oro, an Italian ensemble of which he is joint chief conductor, along with Riccardo Minasi. Last season, he conducted Il Pomo d’Oro in acclaimed concert performances of Handel’s Tamerlano here at the Barbican and at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, as well as in a worldwide tour of a programme of Neapolitan arias with Max Emanuel Cencic with dates in New York, Munich, Paris, Lyon, Rouen, Bern and Seville. Other renowned artists with whom he collaborates include Xavier Sabata, Julia Lezhneva, Sophie Karthäuser, Franco Fagioli, Dmitry Sinkovsky, Alexei Lubimov, Teodor Currentzis and Joyce DiDonato.

He began his career conducting Russian symphony orchestras such as the National Philharmonic of Russia, Soloists of Nizhny Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic, and has since worked with ensembles such as the Sofia Sinfonietta, Sinfonia Varsovia and the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, conducting the last of these in Don Giovanni at the Teatro de la Maestranza. Highlights last season included concerts with the Orquesta Nacional de España, Real Filharmonía de Galicia and the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla; and a concert of Haydn and Mozart with Katia and Marielle Labèque and Il Pomo d’Oro at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris.

Maxim Emelyanychev attained the highest Russian theatre award, the Golden Mask, for his performance as harpsichordist in The Marriage of Figaro at Perm Opera Theatre (a production available on CD). Other recent highlights include a CD of Neapolitan arias with Il Pomo d’Oro and Max Emanuel Cencic; a double album of Haydn, in which he features both as conductor and harpsichordist, with Minasi and Il Pomo d’Oro; and the CD In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music with Joyce Di Donato and Il Pomo d’Oro.

RALF PLEGER, director

Ralf Pleger comes from a musical and theatrical background and has been internationally acclaimed for his innovative music films and film portraits of notable personalities. Signature features of his award-winning films include their musical feel, telling imagery and unorthodox narrative styles. He has won the Audience Award at Montreal’s World Film Festival and an ECHO Klassik Award. His film Wagnerwahn was nominated for the International Emmy Award.

His latest film, The Florence Foster Jenkins Story (2016), features Joyce DiDonato in the title-role. The film tells the story of the ‘worst singer of all time’ in a flamboyant mix of drama and documentary. Ralf Pleger studied musicology, art history and Italian in Berlin and Milan. Freelancing as a dramaturge he contributed to various international opera productions, including at the Berlin State Opera and the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. He simultaneously worked as an author and director for various film productions and television broadcasters. As a film director Ralf Pleger has worked with internationally renowned artists from various fields including Daniel Barenboim, Plácido Domingo, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Teodor Currentzis, Cameron Carpenter, Vivienne Westwood and Donna Leon.

Ralf Pleger’s staging of ‘In War & Peace’ adds a new dimension to his long-term artistic relationship with Joyce DiDonato. Together with the multi-faceted opera singer and the light artist Henning Blum he has developed a concept which is based on atmospheric lighting design and enhances the concert programme with a contemporary, non-literal, yet cohesive narrative. The challenge of reconciliation can be seen as one of the key inspirations for the show.

HENNING BLUM, lighting designer

Henning Blum is a freelance gaffer and lighting designer based in Berlin and Hamburg. He has been involved in the film industry for 17 years, working on over 70 movies, including feature films for all the German networks and ARTE with companies including UFA Fiction, Network Movie, Constantin Film and the Oscar-winning Wiedemann & Berg.

He has also been responsible for the lighting for several films for the cinema, twice working with Fatih Akin, winner at the Cannes Film Festival; and also collaborating with international cinematogaphers Sonja Rom and Ngo The Chau. He has also lit 120 commercials and 30 music videos. His latest film, The Florence Foster Jenkins Story (2016), features Joyce DiDonato in the title-role.

Henning Blum studied at the HAW (University of Applied Sciences) in Hamburg.




MANUEL PALAZZO dancer and choregrapher

Manuel Palazzo studied classical ballet from an early age at the Teatro Colón in his native Argentina and has since travelled the globe, working in both modern and classical dance, as well as opera, theatre, film and television. He is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, as well as a featured dancer at the Teatro Liceu (Barcelona) and Teatro Real (Madrid), and has collaborated with directors such as Sir David McVicar, Harold Prince, Laurent Pelly and Robert Lepage.

Manuel Palazzo’s dance credits include participation with Carcalla Dance Theatre in Beirut, Belgrade National Theatre, Lanonima Imperial Dance Company in Barcelona, the French Cultural Centre in Kinshasa and Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

Film and TV credits include Blood Ties (directed by Guillaume Canet) and Boardwalk Empire (directed by Martin Scorsese).




YOUSEF ISKANDAR, video designer

Yousef Iskandar is a visual artist working in video, photography, performance and art installations. He was born in 1983 in Lebanon. He spent 10 years working in the art department of Yehya Saade’s production house ‘Over Beirut’. Additionally, he designs and gives workshops across Europe. Yousef Iskandar is now based in Berlin and Barcelona where he continues to experiment and play with his multi-disciplinary artistic expression, stretching borders and defying categories and restrictions.