Joyce DiDonato whose maiden name Flaherty was born in Prairie Village, Kansas in 1969, the sixth of seven children in a close-knit Irish-American family.
She sang in choir and musicals in high school and dreamed of becoming a Broadway star or pop singer. DiDonato entered Wichita State University in the Fall of 1988 where she studied vocal music education.
She was initially more interested in teaching high school vocal music and musical theater and did not become interested in opera until her junior year when she was cast in a school producation of Die Fledermaus.
After graduating from WSU in the Spring of 1992, DiDonato decided to pursue graduate studies in vocal performance at the Academy of Vocal Arts. Following her studies in Philadelphia, she was accepted in Santa Fe Opera's young artist program in 1995.
DiDonato began her professional career in the 1998-1999 season singing with several regional opera companies in the United States. She most notably appeared as the main heroine, Maslova, in the world premiere of Tod Machover's Resurrection with the Houston Grand Opera.
DiDonato is currently married to Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni with whom she lives in Kansas City, Missouri. She was married once previously and continues to use her first husband's surname professionally.