The role of Elisabetta is a notoriously difficult part for even the most seasoned of sopranos. In the hands of Joyce El-Khoury it appears both effortless and truly dazzling. Her commitment to the role is total, at points even exhausting in its emotional intensity, and her fluent coloratura and masterful control are joyous. In an otherwise strong libretto by Salvadore Cammerano, Elisabetta is – oddly – drawn rather thinly, appearing as a two-dimensional spurned lover on the page. On the stage, however, El-Khoury gives her depth and a very human sense of vulnerability. Her final aria, “Vivi, in grato, a lei accanto” delivered upon her throne as her mental and physical capacities weaken, provides a counterpoint to the anguished, vengeful queen that dominates the majority of the opera. The moment in it the where El-Khoury drops to an almost imperceptible pianissimo after two hours of muscular bel canto is one of aching fragility that elevates Elisabetta from mere cliche.
Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury, in the role of Elisabetta, gives a thrilling performance, showing herself visibly emotional at the curtain call. I can see her taking on the mantle of Beverly Sills and performing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queens. Her mastery of the coloratura, her expression in the messa di voce and her sheer intelligence as a singer all shone out from her first imperious entry to the unbridled passion of her final aria.
this is definitively Elizabeth’s opera. Her portrayal by Joyce El-Khoury is quite exquisite. Appearing in a bright red silk dress and a striking blond wig, her commanding soprano echoing through the auditorium full of strong passion and longing....El-Khoury is as magnificent and compelling in her grief as she was when expressing her great love. A truly unforgettable performance.
she was absolutely convincing, both vocally and in terms of characterisation, creating a queen at the edge of madness as she learned about the limitations of political power and how her emotions can have power over her; now the vocal control was immaculate. Her reading of Elizabeth’s final aria, ‘Vivi, ingrate, a lei acconto’ was positively stunning, a thing of intensely melancholy beauty.
The Royal Opera House Magazine has a fascinating piece in its current issue that delves into the uncovering of Donizetti's L'Ange de Nisida. Joyce will star in the world premiere July 18-21, details here.