'We won't see her like again. She had a phenomenal range, size and quality of voice. We simply don't hear that any more.' - Lyndon Terracini, artistic director of Opera Australia
Born in Sydney, Australia, on 7 November 1926, Joan Sutherland became one of the great coloratura sopranos of the twentieth century, from the bel canto roles in Bellini and Donizetti, to parts in Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmelites and Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage. She was married to the conductor Richard Bonynge.
At a performance of Handel's Samson at Covent Garden in 1958, Sutherland received a ten minute standing ovation for her performance of Let the Bright Seraphim.
Following her Alcina performance at La fenice in 1960, she was nicknamed La Stupenda. Awards include Australian of the Year 1961, Companion of the Order of Australia and CBE (later DBE).
According to Maria Vandamme, MD of Melba Recordings, Sutherland's exalted artistic status was counterbalanced by an intense desire to maintain normality. Whilst queuing at the cafeteria with orchestra members and stage hands, following a blistering dress rehearsal at which Sutherland had practically raised the roof at the Sydney Opera House, she made the comment 'Not bad for an old Dame'.
Sutherland died in Montreux, Switzerland, on 11 October 2010, aged 83.
A selection of M&V articles about Joan Sutherland
CD Spotlight. Nostalgic and Enthralling - A Joan Sutherland portrait, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... a fitting tribute to the singing legend from Australia ...'
Ensemble. Severity and Comedy - Offenbach's 'Tales of Hoffmann', commended by Gregory Moomjy
CD Spotlight. Diversely Exhilarating - Cheryl Barker pays tribute to Joan Hammond, heard by Howard Smith. '... four recital items have the ideal accompanist in Timothy Young ...'
CD Spotlight. Inestimable Worth - Joan Sutherland's debut recital, assessed by Howard Smith. 'No other single disc has these historic performances.'
CD Spotlight. Thoughtfully Appealing - Judith Lambden plays J S Bach, heard by Howard Smith. '... a great deal to admire ...'
Faust and the 'Free World' - Madeline Jenkins Millard tells the tale of Tresa Waggoner and the Bennett Six
DVD Spotlight. An Eloquent Performance - 'Adriana Lecouvreur', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... a chorus and orchestra beautifully responsive to the lyrical nuances of Cilea's score.'
The Designer Touch - Tonina Doráti and opera production, as explained to Bill Newman