The final piece before the interval was the Willow Song from Rossini's Otello. The introduction, originally for the harp, translates well to the piano, especially under the expert hands of David Zobel, and DiDonato really got to the heart of Desdemona's grief and forebodings of death....heartbreaking!
After the interval, the programme continued with songs by 20th century composers, many of whom are hardly remembered today - such as Francesco Santoliquido (1883-1971) (yes, that was his name; DiDonato made a plea from the stage not to succumb to the temptation to call him "Frankie Holywater"!!) She sang four songs by this composer, all poems he had written himself. I especially liked the first songs, L'assiolo canta (The horned owl sings), which is a song a lover sings on a serene summer's evening...it's a perfect blend of words and music. The longest song, L'incontro (the meeting) about two lovers who meet again after a long time apart, had perhaps less individual character than the previous songs, sounding rather like a blend of Puccini and Richard Strauss - none the worse for that, of course! - giving the singer a chance to shine in soaring cadences.
This was followed by a setting of Leopardi's Oscuro e il ciel by Ildebrando Pizzetti, which is a sublime blending of words and music, expressing passion and yearning as much with the piano as with the voice.
The final group consisted of songs by Italian composers about foreign, 'exotic' climes, such as Leoncavallo's Serenata francese.
After the recital proper, when Joyce DiDonato returned for her encore, she spoke in tribute to the late Sir Charles Mackerras. She had originally come to Edinburgh to sing the role of Idamante in Idomeneo under him (in the event, Sir Roger Norrington conducted). She then sang 'Voi che sapete' as a sort of farewell to Sir Charles, and concluded the evening with an extract from La Donna del Lago.