Dame Joan Sutherland, in full Dame Joan Alston
Sutherland (born November 7, 1926, Sydney,
Australia—died October 10, 2010, Les Avants,
Switzerland), Australian operatic soprano
internationally acclaimed for her coloratura roles.
The daughter of a gifted singer, she studied
piano and voice with her mother until 1946, when she
won a vocal competition and began studying voice
with John and Aida Dickens. She made her singing
debut as Dido in a concert performance of Henry
Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in Sydney in 1947 and her
operatic debut in the title role of Sir Eugene
Goossens’s Judith in 1951. Cash prizes from several
vocal competitions made it possible for her to move
to London and begin study with Clive Carey at the
Royal College of Music. In 1952 she was accepted
into the company of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden,
and made her first appearance there as the First
Lady in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
Her accompanist and vocal coach, Richard Bonynge,
who had worked with her in Sydney, was convinced
that her future lay in the florid coloratura
repertoire even though Covent Garden was training
her as a dramatic Wagnerian soprano. In 1954 she
married Bonynge, and with his help and encouragement
she began to develop her higher range. In 1959
Covent Garden revived Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di
Lammermoor for her, and in 1961 she made her New
York City debut in the same role at the Metropolitan
Opera. Her performance in this difficult title role
won international recognition and established her as
the leading coloratura of the 20th century.
Sutherland afterward sang in Venice, Vienna,
Dallas (Texas), Paris, Barcelona (Spain), Genoa
(Italy), Milan, San Francisco, Chicago, and her
native Sydney. Her greatest later successes were as
Norma in Vincenzo Bellini’s opera of that name,
Cleopatra in George Frideric Handel’s Giulio Cesare,
and the three sopranos in Jacques Offenbach’s The
Tales of Hoffmann. She also had an impressive
concert career and can be heard on many highly
acclaimed recordings. Sutherland retired from
performing in 1990.
Sutherland’s numerous awards include a Kennedy
Center Honor (2004). She was made a Dame Commander
of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1978. A
Prima Donna’s Progress; The Autobiography of Joan
Sutherland was published in 1997.
Live from Lincoln Center - The Concert of the
Great duets, trios and arias from Ernani, Norma,
La Gioconda, I Masnadieri, Il Trovatore, Otello, La
Boheme, La donna del Lago and Beatrice di Tenda.
Includes interval documentary: "How to Sing Bel
Review from the New York Times:
These three voices must surely be numbered among
the best to be heard in the operatic world today.
The singers themselves are well aware of that fact,
and such knowledge only served to inspire healthy
vocal competition and to provide the impetus to give
of their very best. Having sung together many times
over the years, they also are sensitized to one
another's strengths and weaknesses, which means that
the ensembles in particular had a special buoyant
lift and galvanizing electricity.
In its essentials, the concert could be heard as
an old-fashioned glorification of the human
voice...these three singers did after all give us
the concert of the century.
Joan Sutherland State
Memorial Service - Sydney 2010
State Memorial Service
Dame Joan Sutherland
Sydney Opera House
Tuesday 9 November 2010
- Prelude from La
traviata -- Giuseppe Verdi
Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Conducted by Brian Castles-Onion
Adrian Colette AM
Chief Executive, Opera Australia
- 'Bell Song' from
Lakmé -- Léo Delibes
- 'The Honourable
Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister of Australia
- 'Parigi, o cara'
from La traviata -- Giuseppe Verdi
Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti
- Her Excellency
Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO
Governor of New South Wales
- Mad Scene from
Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti
- Mr Moffatt
- 'Era desso il
figlio mio' from Lucrezia Borgia -- Gaetano
- Mr Adam Bonynge
- 'Va, pensiero'
from Nabucco -- Giuseppe Verdi
Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Opera
Conducted by Brian Castles-Onion
- 'Home Sweet Home'
- 'Casta diva' from
Norma -- Vincenzo Bellini
Joan Sutherland - The
Reluctant Prima Donna (1/3)
2006 BBC Documentary
on the career of Dame Joan Sutherland - focusing on
Lucia and Alcina.
Dame Joan Sutherland, one of the greatest operatic
performers of the late twentieth century, who died
in October 2010. Shy and lacking in confidence, she
had sung unnoticed at Covent Garden for seven years
after arriving from Australia, but over the course
of twelve months was transformed into La Stupenda.