Show goes on, even with broken leg

American Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is a powerhouse in the opera scene, considered by many as one of the top bel-canto voices of the century.

The 46-year-old is also perma-connected to her followers through social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, displaying the digital savvy of a millennial.

In one Instagram post, she shares an inspirational quote by author E.B. White: "I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have a hell of a good time."

Elsewhere, she retweets a Buzzfeed article linked to her by a fan, replete with humorous animated icons, titled: "22 problems only Altos would understand."

She tells Life! in an e-mail interview, ahead of her one-night Drama Queens showcase in Singapore next month: "I never had a desire to build a brand... I'm someone who seeks out connection, fun and light-heartedness. In social media, I give myself full licence to speak as I wish."

Indeed, it is on YouTube that DiDonato comes alive, her effusive, sunny disposition shining through.

In a video recording of a 2013 masterclass at New York's Juilliard School of performing arts, she fields questions about cadenzas and coloraturas with the same eloquence as when asked about her past. "I look at all the hard times and how I had to scrape, scrounge, cry, vent and suffer and I wouldn't change that for anything," she says at one point.

She does this because "it's important for me to stay connected to up-and-coming singers, to get them to surpass their limits, to remind them of the high standards that opera singers must maintain and to remember that it is not a career about stardom".

As a matter of fact, DiDonato once famously carried on singing, even after fracturing her leg during an opening night in London in 2009, with the use of a crutch.

For the five remaining scheduled performances, she used a wheelchair.

Born Joyce Flaherty in 1969 in the tiny suburb of Prairie Village in Kansas City, America, DiDonato (her surname is derived from the first of two marriages, both of which have ended in divorce) learnt to love music from her father, an architect who was also a choral director at a church.

She studied vocal music education at the local Wichita State University before later joining the young artist programme at Houston Grand Opera in 1996, where she learnt to remedy her flawed breathing technique of singing with her tongue muscle and jaw instead of her lungs.

Her professional career took off in 2002 after she performed as Rosina in a Paris Opera production of The Barber Of Seville by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.

Since then, she has recorded more than 15 albums, appeared in concerts worldwide and netted a 2010 Artist of the Year accolade at the Gramophone Awards as well as a 2012 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy.

In the coming months, she will continue her Drama Queens tour in China, followed by recitals in the US, before heading to Switzerland to perform in July.

She explains: "For me, opera represents the absolute epitome of the human condition and is steeped in human beings achieving incredible feats. What keeps me going are the music, learning and growth and a firm desire to participate in seeking out truth and beauty."

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