Joyce Ann DiDonato

Joyce Ann DiDonato is awarded the degree of Doctor of Arts, for notable contributions to opera and vocal performance.

The New York Times called her “the perfect 21st-century diva” with a “24-carat gold” voice. Joyce DiDonato is one of the most celebrated mezzo-sopranos today, admired for her interpretations of Handel, Mozart and Rossini. She is noted as a “purveyor of tortured bel canto and Baroque heroines” and for conveying both beauty and pain from “suicidal sadness to rapturous bliss.” She has appeared with major opera companies in New York, London, Berlin, Milan, Houston, San Francisco and Santa Fe. Her appearances include world premieres as Sister Helen in “Dead Man Walking” and as Meg in “Little Women” as well as premiering the role of Mary in Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

DiDonato is known for her impeccable technique as well as her passionate delivery of both classical and modern roles. She was named Gramophone magazine’s artist of the year in 2010, and in 2012 she won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo for her recording “Diva Divo” a mix of “pants and skirts” arias from “young boys to princesses, from ardent young men to demented, murderous wives.” In 2012 she was one of 50 inaugural honorees voted into Gramophone’s Hall of Fame, along with Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Birgit Nilsson.

DiDonato grew up in Prairie Village and studied vocal education at Wichita State University before training in Philadelphia at the Academy of Vocal Arts and apprenticing in Santa Fe, Houston and San Francisco. In 2012, she appeared with the Kansas City Symphony in a recital from the Kauffman Center broadcast on PBS, also nominated for a Grammy Award. She returned to the Kauffman in 2013 to sing the role of Romeo in Bellini’s “Capulets and Montagues.”