Joyce DiDonato‘s new album Songplay finds itself at the intersection between baroque & classical songs and jazz, with “standards” from both worlds. DiDonato re-imagines Italian art songs and arias with the flexibility and sensibility of jazz, and throws in tunes by the likes of Duke Ellington and Richard Rodgers as a complement. In some ways, these 17th & 18th century songs have always had improvisational aspect to them.

That’s exactly I think why Craig [Terry] and I felt we had licensed to do this because it’s how that music was invented, and I’ve had this conversation a lot over the years with the great Maestros. So, you know the William Christie and Alan Curtis, John Eliot Gardiner, that this music is like jazz and it needs to feel improvised and it needs to feel as if it’s being composed on the spot, and that’s always been my my goal as a singer to make it feel fresh and improvise. So it was not a stretch at all to say what we’re going to improvise this music. We’re just going to do it with different instruments and we’re going to play with the chord changes a little bit, but we’re not going to change the structure of the piece or the meaning of the piece that was important for me.

Listen to more from Joyce DiDonato about Songplay:

Daniel Gilliam is Program Director and host