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Sutherland as Haydn's Euridice in Vienna, 1967

Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, OM, AC, DBE (born 7 November 1926) is an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution in the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s through to the 1980s.

One of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after an Alcina performance. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century", while Montserrat Caballé described the Australian's voice as being like "heaven".


Early life and career

Joan Sutherland was born in Sydney, Australia, of Scots parents, where she attended St Catherine's School. As a child, she listened to and copied the singing exercises of her mother, a mezzo-soprano who had studied but never considered making a career. Sutherland was 18 when she started studying voice seriously with John and Aida Dickens. She made her concert debut in Sydney, as Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, in 1947. In 1951, she made her stage debut in Eugene Goossens's Judith. In 1951, after winning Australia's most important competition, the Sun Aria, she went to London to further her studies at the Opera School of the Royal College of Music with Clive Carey. She was engaged by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as a utility soprano, and made her debut there on 28 October 1952, as the First Lady in The Magic Flute, followed in November by a few performances as Clotilde in Vincenzo Bellini's Norma, with Maria Callas as Norma.

During her early career, she was training to be a Wagnerian dramatic soprano, following the steps of Kirsten Flagstad, whom she greatly admired. In December 1952, she sang her first leading role at the Royal Opera House, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera. Other roles included Agathe in Der Freischütz, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Desdemona in Otello, Gilda in Rigoletto, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Pamina in The Magic Flute. In 1953, she sang in the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, and created the role of Jennifer in Michael Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage, on 27 January 1955.

Sutherland married Australian conductor and pianist, Richard Bonynge, on 16 October 1954. They had a son, Adam, born in 1956. Bonynge gradually convinced her that Wagner might not be her Fach after all, since she had such great ease with high notes and coloratura, and that she should perhaps explore the bel canto repertory.

In 1957, she appeared in Handel's Alcina with the Handel Opera Society, and in Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool, in which performances her bel canto potential was clearly demonstrated, vindicating her husband's judgement. The following year she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in Vancouver.

In 1958, she "stopped the show" with "The Bright Seraphim" from Handel's Samson, an exceedingly difficult and demanding aria. The crowd was on its feet for ten minutes and the show came to a stop. It was one of the most extraordinary ovations in the Royal Opera House. Her future as a diva at the Royal Opera House seemed assured afterwards.[citation needed]

La Stupenda

Joan Sutherland in the Mad Scene of Lucia di Lammermoor

In 1959, she was invited to sing Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in a production conducted by Tullio Serafin and staged by Franco Zeffirelli. The role of Edgardo was sung by her fellow Australian Kenneth Neate, who had replaced the scheduled tenor at short notice.[1] It was a breakthrough for Sutherland's career, and, upon the completion of the famous Mad Scene, she had become a star. In 1960, she recorded the album The Art of the Prima Donna, which remains today one of the most recommended opera albums ever recorded: the double LP set won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance — Vocal Soloist in 1962. The album, a collection consisting mainly of coloratura arias, provides an opportunity to listen to the young Sutherland at the beginning of her international career. It displays her seemingly effortless coloratura ability, high notes and opulent tones, as well as her exemplary trill, which she is identified by and for which she is widely admired.

By the beginning of the 1960s, Sutherland had already established a reputation as a diva with a voice out of the ordinary. She sang Lucia to great acclaim in Paris in 1960 and, in 1961, at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Also in 1960, she sang a superb Alcina at La Fenice, Venice, where she was nicknamed La Stupenda ("The Stupendous One"). Sutherland would soon be praised as La Stupenda in newspapers around the world. Later that year (1960), Sutherland sang Alcina at the Dallas Opera, with which she made her US debut.

Her Metropolitan Opera debut took place on 26 November 1961, when she sang Lucia. After a total of 217 performances in a number of different operas, her last appearance there was on 19 December 1987, when she sang in Il trovatore. During 1978–82 period her relationship with the Met severely deteriorated when Sutherland had to decline the role of Constanze in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, more than a year before the rehearsals were scheduled to start. The opera house management then declined to stage the operetta The Merry Widow especially for her, as requested; subsequently, she did not perform at the Met during that time at all, even though a production of Rossini's Semiramide had also been planned, but later she returned there to sing in other operas.[2]

During the 1960s, Sutherland had added the greatest heroines of bel canto ("beautiful singing") to her repertoire: Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, Amina in Bellini's La sonnambula and Elvira in Bellini's I puritani in 1960; the title role in Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda in 1961; Marguerite de Valois in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and the title role in Rossini's Semiramide in 1962; Norma in Bellini's Norma and Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare in 1963. In 1966 she added Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment, which became one of her most adored roles, because of her perfect coloratura and lively, funny interpretation.

In 1965, Sutherland toured Australia with the Sutherland-Williamson Opera Company. Accompanying her was a young tenor named Luciano Pavarotti, and the tour proved to be a major milestone in Pavarotti's career. Every performance featuring Sutherland sold out.

During the 1970s, Sutherland strove to improve her diction, which had often been criticised, and increase the expressiveness of her interpretations. She continued to add dramatic bel canto roles to her repertoire, such as Donizetti's Maria Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as Massenet's extremely difficult Esclarmonde, a role that few sopranos attempt. She recorded a very successful Turandot in 1972 under the baton of Zubin Mehta, though she never performed that role on stage.

Sutherland's early recordings show her to be possessed of a crystal-clear voice and excellent diction. However, by the early 1960s her voice lost some of this clarity in the middle register, and she often came under fire for having unclear diction. Some have attributed this to sinus surgery; however, her major sinus surgery was done in 1959, immediately after her breakthrough Lucia at Covent Garden.[3] In fact, her first commercial recording of the first and final scene of Lucia reveals her voice and diction to be just as clear as prior to the sinus procedure. Her husband Richard Bonynge stated in an interview that her "mushy diction" occurred while striving to achieve perfect legato. According to him, it is because she earlier had a very Germanic "un-legato" way of singing.[4] She clearly took the criticism to heart, as, within a few years, her diction improved markedly and she continued to amaze and thrill audiences throughout the world.

In the late 1970s, Sutherland's voice started to decline and her vibrato loosened to an intrusive extent. However, thanks to her vocal agility and solid technique, she continued singing the most difficult roles amazingly well. During the 1980s, she added Anna Bolena, Amalia in I masnadieri and Adriana Lecouvreur to her repertoire, and repeated Esclarmonde at the Royal Opera House performances in November and December 1983. Her last performance was as Marguerite de Valois (Les Huguenots) at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, at the age of 63. Her last public appearance, however, took place in a gala performance of Die Fledermaus on New Year's Eve, 1990, at Covent Garden, where she was accompanied by her colleagues Luciano Pavarotti and the mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.

According to her own words, given in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2002[5], her biggest achievement was to sing the title role in Esclarmonde. She considers those performances and recordings made as her best, being particularly fond of the love duets.

Retirement years

Joan Sutherland in 1990

Since her retirement, Sutherland has made relatively few public appearances, preferring a quiet life at her home in Switzerland. One exception was her 1994 address at a lunch organised by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. In that address, she complained at having to be interviewed by a clerk of Chinese or Indian background when applying to renew her Australian passport. Her comments caused controversy among some sections of the community at the time.[6][7]

Sutherland had a leading role as Mother Rudd in the 1995 comedy film Dad and Dave: On Our Selection opposite Leo McKern and Geoffrey Rush.[8]

In 1997 she published an autobiography A Prima Donna's Progress. While it received generally scathing reviews for its literary merits, [9] it does contain a complete list of all her performances, with full cast lists.

In 2002 she appeared at a dinner in London to accept the Royal Philharmonic Society's gold medal, and gave an interview to The Guardian in which she lamented the lack of technique in young opera singers, and the dearth of good teachers.[5] She no longer gives master classes herself and when asked why by Italian journalists in May 2007, she replied: "Because I'm 80 years old and I really don't want to have anything to do with opera any more, although I do sit on the juries of singing competitions."[10] The competition that Sutherland has been most closely associated with since her retirement is the Cardiff Singer of the World. She began her regular involvement in the competition in 1993, serving on the jury five consecutive times and later, in 2003, became its patron.[11]

On 3 July 2008, she fell and broke both of her legs while gardening at her home in Switzerland.[12]

Honours and awards

During her career and after, Sutherland received many honours and awards.

In 1961, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[13] That year she was also named the Australian of the Year.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 9 June 1975, she was in the first group of people to be named Companions of the Order of Australia (AC) (the order had been created only in February 1975).[14]

She was elevated within the Order of the British Empire from Commander to Dame Commander (DBE) in the New Year's Honours of 1979.[15]

On 29 November 1991, the Queen bestowed on Dame Joan the Order of Merit (OM).[16]

In January 2004 she received the Australia Post Australian Legends Award which honours Australians who have contributed to the Australian identity and culture. Two stamps featuring Joan Sutherland were issued on Australia Day 2004 to mark the award. Later in 2004, she received a Kennedy Center Honor for her outstanding achievement throughout her career.

Both Sutherland House and the Dame Joan Sutherland Centre at St Catherine's School, Sydney, and The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (JSPAC), Penrith, are named in her honour.[17]


Joan Sutherland performed live the following complete roles.[18]

Date Composer Work Role House Conductor Director Remarks
Jun-1947 Handel Acis and Galatea Galatea Eastwood Masonic Hall Concert performance
Aug-1947 Purcell Dido and Aeneas Dido Lyceum Club, Sydney Concert performance
15-Jul-1950 Handel Samson Dalila and Israelite woman Sydney Town Hall Concert performance; Sutherland made her professional role debut as the Israelite woman on 14 October 1958
09-Jul-1951 Goossens Judith Judith Sydney Conservatorium of Music Goossens Sutherland's first complete staged opera
16-Jul-1952 Puccini Il tabarro Giorgetta Parry Theatre, RCM Richard Austin Peter Rice/Pauline Elliot
28-Oct-1952 Mozart The Magic Flute First lady ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Messel Sutherland's professional debut
03-Nov-1952 Verdi Aida High Priestess ROH, Covent Garden Barbirolli Cruddas
08-Nov-1952 Bellini Norma Clotilde ROH, Covent Garden Gui Barlow
29-Dec-1952 Verdi Un ballo in maschera Amelia ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Barlow/Stone Sutherland's first leading role
24-Feb-1953 Mozart The Marriage of Figaro Countess Almaviva ROH tour, Edinburgh J Gibson Gerard
13-May-1953 Strauss Elektra Overseer ROH, Covent Garden Kleiber Lambert
11-Aug-1953 Britten Gloriana Lady Rich ROH tour, Bulawayo
19-Oct-1953 Wagner Die Walküre Helwige ROH, Covent Garden Stiedry Pemberton
02-Nov-1953 Bizet Carmen Frasquita ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Wakhévitch
04-Feb-1954 Verdi Aida Aida ROH, Covent Garden E Young Cruddas
23-Mar-1954 Weber Der Freischütz Agathe ROH, Covent Garden Downes Furse
30-Apr-1954 Piccinni La buona figliuola Lucinda Mackerras BBC radio broadcast
27-May-1954 Wagner Der Ring des Nibelungen Woglinde and Woodbird ROH, Covent Garden Stiedry Hurry Sutherland also sang the role of Helmwige, which she had sung previously; the other dates of the cycle were 2, 8, and 17 June
17-Nov-1954 Offenbach Les contes d'Hoffmann Antonia ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
27-Jan-1955 Tippett The Midsummer Marriage Jenifer ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Hepworth World premiere; Sutherland created the role
28-Feb-1955 Offenbach Les contes d'Hoffmann Giulietta ROH tour, Glasgow Downes Wakhévitch
19-Jun-1955 Offenbach Les contes d'Hoffmann Olympia ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
30-Sep-1955 Weber Euryanthe Euryanthe Stiedry BBC radio broadcast
30-Oct-1955 Bizet Carmen Micaela ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
11-Mar-1956 Mozart La clemenza di Tito Vitellia Pritchard BBC radio broadcast
10-Nov-1956 Mozart The Magic Flute Pamina ROH, Covent Garden J Gibson Messel
28-Jan-1957 Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Eva ROH, Covent Garden Kubelík Wakhévitch
19-Mar-1957 Handel Alcina Alcina St Pancras Town Hall Farncombe Concert performance; Sutherland first performed this role on stage on 19 February 1960
08-Jun-1957 Verdi Rigoletto Gilda ROH, Covent Garden Downes Gellner
05-Jul-1957 Mozart Der Schauspieldirektor Mme Hertz Glyndebourne Festival Opera Balkwill Rice
16-Aug-1957 Scarlatti Mitridate Eupatore Laodice Appia BBC radio broadcast
08-Sep-1957 Donizetti Emilia di Liverpool Emilia Pritchard BBC radio broadcast
21-Dec-1957 Verdi Otello Desdemona ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
16-Jan-1958 Poulenc Dialogues of the Carmelites Mme Lidoine ROH, Covent Garden Kubelík Wakhévitch
24-May-1958 Handel Applausus Musicus Temperentia Newstone BBC radio broadcast
26-Jul-1958 Mozart Don Giovanni Donna Anna Vancouver Opera Goldschmidt Maximowna
17-Feb-1959 Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor Lucia ROH, Covent Garden Serafin Zeffirelli This performance marked the beginning of Sutherland's international career
24-Jun-1959 Handel Rodelinda Rodelinda Sadler's Wells Theatre Farncombe Pidcock
08-Jan-1960 Verdi La traviata Violetta Valéry ROH, Covent Garden Santi Fedorovitch
24-May-1960 Bellini I puritani Elvira Glyndebourne Festival Opera Gui Heeley
19-Oct-1960 Bellini La sonnambula Amina ROH, Covent Garden Serafin Sanjust
21-Feb-1961 Bellini Beatrice di Tenda Beatrice New York Town Hall Rescigno Concert performance; Sutherland first performed this role on stage on 10 May 1961
04-Jan-1962 Mozart The Magic Flute The Queen of the Night ROH, Covent Garden Klemperer Eisler
28-May-1962 Meyerbeer Les Huguenots Maguerite de Valois La Scala Gavazzeni Nicola Benois
17-Dec-1962 Rossini Semiramide Semiramide La Scala Santini
20-Jun-1963 Handel Giulio Cesare Cleopatra Sadler's Wells Theatre Farncombe Warre
17-Oct-1963 Bellini Norma Norma Vancouver Opera Bonynge McLance/Mess
09-Mar-1965 Gounod Faust Marguerite Connecticut Opera Bonynge Rome/Brooks van Horne
02-Jun-1966 Donizetti La fille du régiment Marie ROH, Covent Garden Bonynge Anni/Escoffier
10-Apr-1967 Delibes Lakmé Lakmé Seattle Opera Bonynge
21-May-1967 Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice Euridice Theater an der Wien Bonynge Ludwig
12-Nov-1971 Donizetti Maria Stuarda Maria Stuarda San Francisco Opera Bonynge Pizzi
26-Oct-1972 Donizetti Lucrezia Borgia Lucrezia Vancouver Opera Bonynge Varona
23-Oct-1974 Massenet Esclarmonde Esclarmonde San Francisco Opera Bonynge Montressor
12-Sep-1975 Verdi Il trovatore Leonora San Francisco Opera Bonynge Hager/Skalicki
22-Apr-1976 Lehár The Merry Widow Hanna Glavari Vancouver Opera Bonynge Varona
16-Jul-1977 Puccini Suor Angelica Suor Angelica Sydney Opera House Bonynge Digby
23-Sep-1977 Massenet Le roi de Lahore Sita Vancouver Opera Bonynge Mariani
04-Jul-1979 Mozart Idomeneo Electra Sydney Opera House Bonynge Truscott
02-Jul-1980 Verdi I masnadieri Amalia Sydney Opera House Bonynge Lees/Stennett
22-May-1983 Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur Adriana San Diego Opera Bonynge O'Hearn/Mess
22-Jun-1984 Donizetti Anna Bolena Anna Bolena Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Bonynge Pascoe/Stennett
04-Oct-1985 Thomas Hamlet Ophélie Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Bonynge Shalicki/Digby/Stennett


Recordings include:

Vincenzo Bellini
  • Beatrice di Tenda — Joan Sutherland (Beatrice), Luciano Pavarotti (Orombello), Cornelius Opthof (Filippo), Josephine Veasey (Agnese), Joseph Ward (Anichino/Rizzardo), Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Bonynge — Decca
  • I puritani — Joan Sutherland (Elvira), Pierre Duval (Arturo), Renato Capecchi (Riccardo), Ezio Flagello (Giorgio), Giovanni Fioiani (Gualtiero), Margreta Elkins (Enrichetta), Piero de Palma (Bruno), Coro e Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Richard Bonynge (conductor) —recorded 1963— Decca 448 969-2 / Decca 467 789-2 (part of a 10-CD set) / London POCL 3965-7
  • I puritani — Joan Sutherland (Elvira), Luciano Pavarotti (Arturo), Piero Cappuccilli (Riccardo), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Giorgio), Giancarlo Luccardi (Gualtiero), Anita Caminada (Enrichetta), Renato Cazzaniga (Bruno), Chorus of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, London Symphony Orchestra—Richard Bonynge, Recorded 1973, Decca
  • La sonnambula — Joan Sutherland (Amina), Nicola Monti (Elvino), Fernando Corena (Rodolfo), Sylvia Stahlman (Lisa), Margreta Elkins (Teresa), Angelo Mercuriali (Notary), Giovanni Fioiani (Alessio), Coro e Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Richard Bonynge recorded 1962—Decca 00289 448 9662 6 / 000320702 / 455 823-2 — Track listing
  • La sonnambula — Joan Sutherland (Amina), Luciano Pavarotti (Elvino), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Rodolfo), Isobel Buchanan (Lisa), Della Jones (Teresa), Piero De Palma (Notaro), John Tomlinson (Alessio), National Philharmonic Orchestra, London Opera Chorus, Richard Bonynge, recorded 1980—Decca 2LH417-424
  • Norma — Joan Sutherland (Norma), Marilyn Horne (Adalgisa), John Alexander (Pollione), Richard Cross (Oroveso), Yvonne Minton (Clotilde), Joseph Ward (Flavio), London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Richard Bonynge, Recorded 1964—Decca
  • Norma — Joan Sutherland (Norma), Margreta Elkins (Adalgisa), Ronald Stevens (Pollione), Clifford Grant (Oroveso), Etela Piha (Clotilde), Trevor Brown (Flavio), Opera Australia Chorus, Elizabethan Sydney Orchestra, Richard Bonynge, recorded 1978—DVD Arthaus Musik 100 180
  • Norma — Joan Sutherland (Norma), Montserrat Caballé (Adalgisa), Luciano Pavarotti (Pollione), Samuel Ramey (Oroveso), Diana Montague (Clotilde), Kim Begley (Flavio), Chorus and Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, Richard Bonynge, Recorded 1984—Decca
Georges Bizet
  • CarmenRegina Resnik (Carmen), Mario del Monaco (Don Jose), Joan Sutherland (Micaëla), Tom Krause (Escamillo), Georgette Spanellys (Frasquita), Yvonne Minton (Mercedes), Robert Geay (Zuninga), Jean Prudent (Le Dancaire), Alfred Hallet (Le Remendado), Claude Cales (Morales)
Giovanni Battista Bononcini
Léo Delibes
Gaetano Donizetti
  • Emilia di Liverpool (excerpts) / Lucia di Lammermoor (excerpts) — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), Margreta Elkins (Alisa), Joao Gibin (Edgardo), Tullio Serafin (conductor). Recorded 26 February 1959—Myto Records MCD 91545 (Probably these are excerpts from the same performance as the Melodram recording.)
  • Lucia di Lammermoor — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), Renato Cioni (Edgardo), Robert Merrill (Enrico), Cesare Siepi (Raimondo), Chorus & Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, John Pritchard (conductor), Decca, 1961.
  • Lucia di Lammermoor — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), Luciano Pavarotti (Edgardo), Sherrill Milnes(Enrico), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Raimondo), Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Richard Bonynge, Decca, 1971.
  • Lucia di Lammermoor — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), João Gibin (Edgardo), John Shaw (Enrico), Joseph Rouleau (Raimondo), Kenneth MacDonald (Arturo), Margreta Elkins (Alisa), Robert Bowman (Normanno), Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Tullio Serafin, recorded 1959—Golden Melodram GM 50024 or Giuseppe di Stefano GDS 21017 or Bella Voce BLV 107 218 (highlights). 2006 release: Royal Opera House Heritage Series ROHS 002.
  • Lucia di Lammermoor — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), André Turp (Edgardo), John Shaw (Enrico), Joseph Rouleau (Raimondo), Kenneth MacDonald (Arturo), Margreta Elkins (Alisa), Edgar Evans (Normanno), Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, John Pritchard, recorded 1961—Celestial Audio CA 345
  • Lucia di Lammermoor — Joan Sutherland (Lucia), Richard Tucker (Edgardo), Frank Guarrera (Enrico), Nicola Moscona (Raimondo), Robert Nagy (Normanno), Thelma Votipka (Alisa), Charles Anthony (Arturo), Metropolitan Opera House, Conductor: Silvio Varviso. Recorded 9 December 1961 for radio broadcasting.
  • La fille du régiment — Joan Sutherland (Marie), Luciano Pavarotti (Tonio), Monica Sinclair (La Marquise de Berkenfield), Jules Bruyère (Hortensius), Spiro Malas (Sulpice), Eric Garrett (Le Caporal), Edith Coates (La Duchesse de Crakentorp), Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Richard Bonynge. Recorded: Kingsway Hall, London, 17–28 July 1967. Original LP release: SET 372-3 (2 LPs), CD release: 414 520-2 DH2 (2 CDs).
  • L'elisir d'amore — Joan Sutherland (Adina), Luciano Pavarotti (Nemorino), Dominic Cossa (Belcore), Spiro Malas (Dulcamara), Maria Casula (Giannetta), Ambrosian Opera Chorus, English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge. Recorded: Kingsway Hall, London, 12–23 January & 1–10 July 1970. Original LP release: SET 503-5 (3 LPs), CD release: 414 461-2 DH2 (2 CDs), CD re-release: 475 7514 DOR2 (2 CDs).
  • Lucrezia Borgia — Joan Sutherland (Lucrezia Borgia), Ronald Stevens (Gennaro), Margreta Elkins (Maffio Orsini), Richard Allman (Don Alfonso), Robin Donald (Jacopo Liveretto), Lyndon Terracini (Don Apostolo Gazella), Gregory Yurisich (Ascanio Petrucci), Lamberto Furlan (Oloferno Vitellozzo), Pieter Van der Stolk (Gubetta), Graeme Ewer (Rustighello), John Germain (Astolfo), Neville Grave (Un servo), Eddie Wilden (Un coppiere), Jennifer Bermingham (Principessa Negroni), Australian Opera Chorus, Sydney Elizabethan Orchestra, Richard Bonynge, recorded 1977. VHS Video Cassette — Castle Video CV2845 (PAL); Polygram-Vidéo 070 031-3 (SECAM) Polygram 079 261-3 (PAL)
  • Lucrezia Borgia — Joan Sutherland (Lucrezia), Giacomo Aragall (Gennaro), Marilyn Horne (Orsini), Ingvar Wixell (Alfonso), London Opera Chorus, National Philarmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge (conductor), Decca, 1977.
  • Maria Stuarda — Joan Sutherland (Maria), Huguette Tourangeau (Elisabeta), Luciano Pavarotti (Leicester), Roger Soyer (Talbot), Margreta Elkins (Anna), James Morris (Cecil), Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Richard Bonynge, recorded 1975—Decca 00289 425 4102 / Lyrica LRC 1040/1041 — Track listing and excerpts
Charles Gounod
George Frideric Handel
  • Alcina — Joan Sutherland (Alcina), Margreta Elkins (Ruggiero), Lauris Elms (Bradamante), Richard Greager (Oronte), Narelle Davidson (Morgana), Ann-Maree McDonald (Oberto), John Wegner (Melisso), Chorus and Orchestra of Australian Opera, Richard Bonynge, recorded 1983. Celestial Audio CA 112
  • Alcina coupled with Giulio Cesare in Egitto (highlights) — Margreta Elkins (Giulio Cesare), Joan Sutherland (Cleopatra), Marilyn Horne (Cornelia), Monica Sinclair (Tolomeo), Richard Conrad (Sesto), New Symphonic Orchestra of London, Richard Bonynge—Decca 00289 433 7232 / 467063-2 / 467 067-2 — Track listing and excerpts
  • Athalia — Joan Sutherland, Emma Kirkby, Aled Jones, James Bowman, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Thomas, The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood (Conductor)
  • Messiah — Joan Sutherland, Grace Bumbry, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult (Conductor)—Decca 433 003-2
  • Rodelinda — Alfred Hallett (Grimoaldo), Raimund Herincx (Garibaldo), Joan Sutherland (Rodelinda), Dame Janet Baker (Eduige), Margreta Elkins (Bertarido), Patricia Kern (Unolfo), Chandos Singers, Philomusica Antiqua Orchestra, Charles Farncombe. An English language version, recorded live on June 24, 1959—Opera D'oro OPD 1189 (2 CDs) or Memories HR 4577–4578 or Living Stage LS 403 35147 (highlights).
  • Rodelinda — Joan Sutherland (Rodelinda), Huguette Tourangeau (Bertarido), Eric Tappy (Grimoaldo), Margreta Elkins (Eduige), Cora Canne-Meijer (Unolfo), Pieter Van Den Berg (Garibaldo), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge. Recorded 30 June 1973—Bella Voce BLV 10 7206.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Jacques Offenbach
  • Les contes d'Hoffmann — Joan Sutherland, Plácido Domingo, Gabriel Bacquier, , L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande,Orchestre du Radio de la Suisse Romande, Pro Arte de Lausanne, Andre Charlet, Richard Bonynge, studio recording made at Victoria Hall, Geneva, first published in 1976.
Giacomo Puccini
Gioachino Rossini
  • Semiramide — Joan Sutherland (Semiramide), John Serge (Idreno), Joseph Rouleau (Assur), Spiro Malas (Oroe), Patricia Clark (Azema), Leslie Fyson (Mitrane), Michael Langdon (Spectre of Nino), Marilyn Horne (Arsace), London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Bonynge. Decca 425 481-2, recorded in 1966.
Ambroise Thomas
  • Hamlet — Joan Sutherland, Gösta Winbergh, James Morris, Sheril Milnes, Orchestra and Chorus of the Welsh National Opera. Decca, 433 857-2.
Giuseppe Verdi
  • ErnaniLuciano Pavarotti (Ernani), Joan Sutherland (Elvira), Leo Nucci (Carlo), Paata Burchuladze (Silva), Linda McLeod (Giovanna), Richard Morton (Riccardo), Alastair Miles (Jago), Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera, Richard Bonynge. Recorded: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, 10–21 May 1987. Original CD release: 421 412-2 DHO2 (2 CDs), CD re-release: 475 7008 DM2 (2 CDs)
  • I Masnadieri — Joan Sutherland, Samuel Ramey, Franco Bonisolli, Matteo Manuguerra, Simone Alaimo, Orchestra and Chorus of the Welsh Nation, Richard Bonynge. CD re-release in 1993: 433 854-2 (2 CD, DDD).
  • Requiem — Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti, Martti Talvela, Vienna State Opera Chorus and Vienna Philharmonic (Sir Georg Solti). Decca 411 944-2
  • RigolettoCornell MacNeil, Joan Sutherland, Renato Cioni, Cesare Siepi, Chorus & Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Nino Sanzogno, Decca, 1961.
  • RigolettoSherrill Milnes, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Martti Talvela, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Bonynge, Decca, 1971.
  • La traviata — Joan Sutherland, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Chorus & Orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, John Pritchard, Decca, 1962
  • La traviata — Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Matteo Manuguerra, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge. London 430 491-2 recorded in 1979.
  • Il trovatoreLuciano Pavarotti (Manrico), Ingvar Wixell (Il Conte di Luna), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Ferrando), Joan Sutherland (Leonora), Marilyn Horne (Azucena), Graham Clark (Ruiz), Norma Burrowes (Ines), Peter Knapp (Un vecchio zingaro), Wynford Evans (Un messo), London Opera Chorus, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge. Recorded: Kingsway Hall, London, 8, 10, 11, 13–18, 20 September 1976; 26 March 1977. Original LP release: D82D 3 (3 LPs), CD release: 417 137-2 DH2* (2 CDs), CD re-release: 460 735-2 DF2 (2 CDs). (Ballet music not included in CD release).
Richard Wagner
  • Siegfried — Joan Sutherland as the Woodbird, Vienna Philharmonic (Sir Georg Solti) 1962 recording, London 414 110-2


  1. ^ Martin Cooke: Vale Ken Neate
  2. ^ Music View: Mystery of Casting at the Met by Donal Henahan, NYT, February 16, 1986
  3. ^ Joan Sutherland, Russell Braddon, Collins, 1962
  4. ^ Joan Sutherland talks about high notes—part 2 YouTube clip of a TV interview
  5. ^ a b Martin Kettle, 'I didn't want to be a diva', The Guardian, May 8, 2002.
  6. ^ "Dame Joan Sutherland". Sunday Profile (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 27 March 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2007. 
  7. ^ Hide, Carolyn (1996). "Background Paper 9 1995–96: The Recent Republic Debate—A Chronology". Background Papers published 1995–96. Australian Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 21 December 2007. "7 October 1994 Dame Joan Sutherland addressed a lunch organised by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and said: I was brought up having a British passport and it upsets me that I don't have a British passport now...; When I go to the post office to be interviewed by a Chinese or an Indian—I'm not particularly racist—but I find it ludicrous, when I've had a passport for 40 years." 
  8. ^ Dad and Dave: On Our Selection at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ "One Long Flat Note", Anthony Clarke, Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, 20 December 1997, p. 10
  10. ^ Alberto Mattioli, 'Big Luciano, un video per la Stupenda Joan', La Stampa, 23 May 2007.
  11. ^ BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2005.
  12. ^ "Opera legend Joan Sutherland, 81, recovering after breaking both her legs in a fall at home" Daily Mail (7 July 2008)
  13. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  14. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  15. ^ It's an Honour: DBE
  16. ^ It's an Honour: OM
  17. ^ Official web site of The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre
  18. ^ This list is taken from the complete list of Sutherland's performances up to and including 18 December 1986 on pp. 204–241 of Norma Major's book Joan Sutherland, published 1987

Further reading

  • Norma Major Joan Sutherland: The Authorized Biography Queen Anne P, 1987, ISBN 0-35612-693-5, ISBN 978-0356126937 / Little Brown & Co, 1994, ISBN 0-31654-555-4, ISBN 978-0316545556
  • The Autobiography of Joan Sutherland — A prima donna's progress Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, ISBN 0297813218

External links


Simple English

Joan Sutherland (7 November 1926 – 10 October 2010) was an Australian operatic soprano particularly associated with the bel canto repertory and French operas. She possessed a voice of great beauty and considerable power combined with extraordinary agility and a brilliant upper register. She was called La Stupenda by the Italian press, which means The Stupendous One.

Life and career

Born in Sydney, Australia, she studied first with her mother and later with John and Aida Dickens. After a few public appearances, notably in Henry Purcell's Dido and Aenas and Eugene Goossens' Judith, she left for London, England in 1951 to continue her vocal studies with Clive Carey.

She was hired by the Royal Opera House as a utility soprano, making her debut in 1952, as the First Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute. She went on singing a wide variety of roles such as Amelia (Un ballo in maschera), Aida (Aida), Agathe (Der Freischutz) and Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg), and also created the role of Jennifer in Michael Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage in 1955.

She met and married fellow countryman and accompanist Richard Bonynge in 1954, who recognized her potential for the bel canto repertoire and guided her in that direction. This led to her appearance in Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool and Handel's Alcina in 1957, and eventually the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in 1959, which proved a sensational success and launched her international career.

She was rapidly invited to appear at most of the great opera houses of the world (Milan, Paris, New York, etc.) to great acclaim. Some of her most famous roles include; Rossini's Semiramide, Bellini's La sonnambula, Norma, Beatrice di Tenda, I puritani, Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, Maria Stuarda, Verdi's La traviata, amongst many others. She also resurrected some long neglected works like Massenet's Le Roi de Lahore and Esclarmonde.

Sutherland retired from the stage in 1990. She was made a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1978. She died at her home near Montreux, Switzerland, at the age of 83.


  • The New Everyman Dictionary of Music, Eric Blom, revised by David Cummings, D.M. Dent & Sons Limited, 1988.


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