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Joan Sutherland

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Title: Joan Sutherland  
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Subject: I puritani, Esclarmonde, Arts in Australia, Music of Australia, Virginia Zeani
Collection: 1926 Births, 2010 Deaths, 20Th-Century Australian Singers, Alumni of the Royal College of Music, Aria Award Winners, Aria Hall of Fame Inductees, Australian Dames, Australian Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Australian Expatriates in Switzerland, Australian Members of the Order of Merit, Australian Monarchists, Australian of the Year Award Winners, Australian Opera Singers, Australian Operatic Sopranos, Australian People of Scottish Descent, Australian Sopranos, Companions of the Order of Australia, Decca Records Artists, Disease-Related Deaths in Switzerland, Grammy Award Winners, Helpmann Award Winners, Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music, Kennedy Center Honorees, London Records Artists, Operatic Sopranos, Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medallists, Singers Awarded Knighthoods, Singers from Sydney
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Joan Sutherland

Dame Joan Sutherland
Joan Sutherland in 1975
Born Joan Alston Sutherland
(1926-11-07)7 November 1926
Died 10 October 2010(2010-10-10) (aged 83)
Les Avants, Vaud, Switzerland
Years active 1947–1990
Spouse(s) Richard Bonynge (1954–2010, her death)

Dame Joan Alston Sutherland OMACDBE (7 November 1926 – 10 October 2010)[1] was an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to 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 a performance of the title role in Handel's Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, "supremely" pinpoint staccatos,[2] a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction.[3] Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century"; Montserrat Caballé described the Australian's voice as being like "heaven". Sutherland was the first Australian to win a Grammy Award, for Best Classical Performance – Vocal Soloist (with or without orchestra) in 1962.


  • Early life and career 1
  • La Stupenda 2
  • Retirement years 3
  • Death 4
  • Memorial service 5
  • Voice 6
    • Vocal timbre 6.1
    • Vocal category, size and range 6.2
  • Honours 7
  • Awards 8
  • Roles 9
  • Recordings 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13

Early life and career

Joan Sutherland was born to Scottish parents in Sydney, and attended St Catherine's School in the suburb of Waverley, New South Wales. As a child, she listened to and imitated her mother's singing exercises. Her mother, a mezzo-soprano, had taken voice lessons but never considered making a career as a professional singer. Sutherland was 18 years old when she began seriously studying voice 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 (now known as the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria) in 1949.[4] She then 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.

Being an admirer of Kirsten Flagstad in her early career, she trained to be a Wagnerian dramatic soprano. 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, and Pamina in The Magic Flute. In 1953, she sang the role of Lady Rich in Benjamin Britten's Gloriana a few months after its world premiere, 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. Their son, Adam, was born in 1956. Bonynge gradually convinced her that Wagner might not be her Fach, and that since she could produce high notes and coloratura with great ease, she should perhaps explore the bel canto repertoire. She eventually settled in this Fach, spending most of her career singing dramatic coloratura soprano.

In 1957, she appeared in Handel's Alcina with the Handel Opera Society, and sang selections from Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool in a radio broadcast, 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, at the Royal Opera House, after singing "Let the bright Seraphim" from Handel's oratorio Samson, she received a ten-minute-long standing ovation.

La Stupenda

In 1959, Sutherland 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.[5] 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, displays her seemingly effortless coloratura ability, high notes and opulent tones, as well as her exemplary trill. The album was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2011.

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. In 1960, she sang a superb Alcina at La Fenice, Venice, where she was nicknamed La Stupenda ("The Stunning 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.

Joan Sutherland (1962)

Her Metropolitan Opera debut took place on 26 November 1961, when she sang Lucia. After a total of 223 performances in a number of different operas,[6] her last appearance there was a concert on 12 March 1989.[7] During the 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.[8]

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 popular 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 Esclarmonde, a role that few sopranos attempt. With Pavarotti she made a very successful studio-recording of Turandot in 1972 under the baton of Zubin Mehta, though she never performed the role on stage.

Sutherland's early recordings show her to be possessed of a crystal-clear voice and excellent diction. However, by the early 1970s 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.[9] 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.[10] 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. As her vocal security to some extent lessened, paradoxically her dramatic grasp of the theatrical moment heightened. 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 full-length dramatic performance was as Marguerite de Valois (Les Huguenots) at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, at the age of 63, where she sang Home Sweet Home for her encore.[11] 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,[12] her biggest achievement was to sing the title role in Esclarmonde. She considered those performances and recordings her best.

Retirement years

Joan Sutherland in 1990

After retirement, Sutherland made relatively few public appearances, preferring a quiet life at her home in Australians for Constitutional Monarchy. In that address, she complained about 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

In 1997, she published an autobiography, The Autobiography of Joan Sutherland: A Prima Donna's Progress. It received mixed reviews for its literary merits,.[16] Library Review stated,

"Opera superstar Dame Joan Sutherland gives an exhaustive account of her performing and recording career over four decades. From her early years in Australia and with the Covent Garden company in London, to her daunting schedule at most of the major opera houses of the world, we read endlessly of where, when, and with whom she sang which roles. We're shown a sensible woman and a hard-working artist, with a healthy ego tempered by a sense of humor that is often self-deprecating."[17]

The work includes a complete list of all her performances, with full cast lists.

Her official biography, Joan Sutherland: The Authorised Biography, published in February 1994, was written by Norma Major, wife of the then prime minister John Major.[18]

In 2002, she appeared at a dinner in London to accept the Royal Philharmonic Society's gold medal. She gave an interview to The Guardian in which she lamented the lack of technique in young opera singers and the dearth of good teachers.[12] By this time she was no longer giving master classes herself; when asked by Italian journalists in May 2007 why this was, 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."[19] The Cardiff Singer of the World competition was the one that Sutherland was most closely associated with after her retirement. She began her regular involvement with the event in 1993, serving on the jury five consecutive times and later, in 2003, becoming its patron.[20]

On 3 July 2008, she fell and broke both of her legs while gardening at her home in Switzerland.[21] She completely recovered and attended a 2009 luncheon hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in honour of members of the Order of Merit.


On 11 October 2010, Sutherland's family announced that she had died at her home at Les Avants in Switzerland the previous day of cardiopulmonary failure – "the heart just gave out...When it came to the point that she physically couldn't do anything, she didn't want to live any more. She wanted to go, she was happy to go, and in the end she died very, very peacefully."[22][23][24] Though she recovered from her fall in 2008, it led to more serious health problems.[25] A statement from her family said "She's had a long life and gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people." Sutherland had requested a small, private funeral service.[22] Her funeral was held on 14 October and Opera Australia planned a tribute to her.[25] Artistic director of Opera Australia, Lyndon Terracini, said "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."[25] Sutherland is survived by her husband, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.[26][27]

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said, "She was of course one of the great opera voices of the 20th century," adding that Dame Joan showed a lot of "quintessential Australian values. She was described as down to earth despite her status as a diva. On behalf of all Australians I would like to extend my condolences to her husband Richard and son Adam and their extended family at this difficult time. I know many Australians will be reflecting on her life's work today."[28]

Memorial service

A State Memorial Service on 9 November 2010, arranged by Opera Australia, was held at the Sydney Opera House.[29] Speakers at the service were Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia; Professor Marie Bashir, the Governor of New South Wales; Moffatt Oxenbould, the former Artistic Director of Opera Australia; and Sutherland's son, Adam Bonynge. The service was broadcast live by both ABC1 television and ABC Classic FM (radio) and streamed globally by ABC News 24. Further memorial services were held in Westminster Abbey on 15 February 2011,[30] and in New York City on 24 May 2011, which was hosted by Marilyn Horne with an appearance by Richard Bonynge. In attendance were Sherrill Milnes, Norman Ayrton, Regina Resnik, and Spiro Malas.


Vocal timbre

Described as "fresh," "silvery" and "bell-like" until 1963,[31] Joan Sutherland's voice, later became "golden" and "warm",[2] music critic John Yohalem writes it was like "molten honey caressing the line."[31] In his book Voices, Singers and Critics, John Steane writes that "if the tonal spectrum ranges from bright to dark, Sutherland's place would be near the centre, which is no doubt another reason for her wide appeal."[2] According to John Yohalem, "Her lower register was a cello register, Stradivarius-hued."[31] Her voice was full and rounded even in her highest notes,[32] which was brilliant, but sometimes "slightly acid."[33]

In 1971, Time writes an article comparing Sutherland and Beverly Sills,

Originally bright and youthful-sounding, her voice darkened as she transformed herself into a coloratura. There is a suggestion of Callas' famous middle register in Sutherland's vocal center—a tone that sounds as if the singer were singing into the neck of a resonant bottle. Today the Sutherland voice towers like a natural wonder, unique as Niagara or Mount Everest. Sills' voice is made of more ordinary stuff; what she shares with Callas is an abandon in hurling herself into fiery emotional music and a willingness to sacrifice vocal beauty for dramatic effect. Sutherland deals in vocal velvet, Sills in emotional dynamite. Sutherland's voice is much larger, but its plush monochrome robs it of carrying power in dramatic moments. Sills' multicolored voice, though smaller, projects better and has a cutting edge that can slice through the largest orchestra and chorus. Sometimes, indeed, it verges on shrillness. [...] In slow, legato music, Sills has a superior sense of rhythm and clean attack to keep things moving; Sutherland's more flaccid beat and her style of gliding from note to note often turn song into somnolence. Sills' diction in English, French and Italian is superb; Sutherland's vocal placement produces mushy diction in any language, but makes possible an even more seamless beauty of tone than is available to Sills.[34]

Describing Sutherland's voice, John Yohalem writes:

On my personal color scale, which runs from a voluptuous red (Tebaldi) or blood-orange (Leontyne Price) or purple (Caballé) or red-purple (Troyanos) to white-hot (Rysanek) or runny yellow-green (Sills), Sutherland is among the "blue" sopranos – which has nothing to do with "blues" in the pop sense of the term. (Ella Fitzgerald had a blue voice, but Billie Holiday had a blues voice, which is very different.) Diana Damrau is blue. Mirella Freni is blue-ish. Karita Mattila is ice blue. Régine Crespin was deep blue shading to violet. Sutherland was true blue (like the Garter ribbon). There is a coolness here that can take on the passion in the music but does not inject passion where the music lacks it, could possibly use it.[31]

Vocal category, size and range

Although she is generally described as a dramatic coloratura soprano, "categorizing Sutherland's voice has always been extremely difficult, both the size and the sound present definitional problems [...] Aside from singing some roles popular amongst coloratura sopranos, Sutherland's voice could not be more different."[2]

In a 1961 profile in The New York Times Magazine, Sutherland said she initially had "a big rather wild voice" that was not heavy enough for Wagner, although she did not realise this until she heard "Wagner sung as it should be."[35]

Regarding the size of Sutherland's voice, Opera Britannia praise "a voice of truly heroic dimensions singing bel canto. It is doubtful if any soprano in this repertoire has fielded quite so much power and tone as Dame Joan, and this includes Callas and Tetrazzini. The contrast with other sopranos who sing the same roles is appropriately enough stupendous, with rival prima donnas producing small pin points of sound as compared to Sutherland's seemingly endless cascades of full tone."[2] In 1972, music critic Winthrop Sargeant describes her voice "as large as that of a top-ranking Wagnerian soprano" in the The New Yorker.[36] French soprano Natalie Dessay states, "She had a huge, huge voice and she was able to lighten suddenly and to take this quick coloratura and she had also the top high notes like a coloratura soprano but with a big, huge voice, which is very rare."[37]

Sutherland's vocal range extended from G below the staff (G3)[35] to high F (F6), or high F-sharp (F6), although she never sang this last note in a public performance.[2][38]


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).[39] That year she was named the Australian of the Year.[40]

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).[41] She was elevated within the Order of the British Empire from Commander to Dame Commander (DBE) in the New Year's Honours of 1979.[42]

On 29 November 1991, the Queen bestowed on Dame Joan the Order of Merit (OM).[43]


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.

In 1992 Sutherland was a founding patron and active supporter of the Tait Memorial Trust in London. A charity established by Isla Baring OAM, the daughter of Sir Frank Tait of J. C. Williamson's to support young Australian performing artists in the UK.[44] Sir Frank Tait was the Australian impresario who created and managed the Sutherland-Williamson tour of Australia in 1965.[45]

Sutherland House and the Dame Joan Sutherland Centre, both at St Catherine's School, Waverley, and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (JSPAC), Penrith, are all named in her honour.[46]

John Paul College, a leading private school in Queensland, Australia, dedicated its newly established facility the Dame Joan Sutherland Music Centre in 1991. Sutherland visited the centre for its opening and again in 1996.

On 22 May 2007, the year of the centenary of the birth of soprano Lina Pagliughi, she received the award La Siòla d'Oro at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.[47]

In 2012, Sutherland was voted into the first Hall of Fame of the magazine Gramophone.[48]


Sutherland performed live the following complete roles.[49]

First performance Composer Work Role House Conductor Director Remarks
1947-06-0020 June 1947 Handel Acis and Galatea Galatea Eastwood Masonic Hall, Sydney Concert performance
1947-08-0030 August 1947 Purcell Dido and Aeneas Dido Lyceum Club, Sydney Concert performance
1950-07-1515 July 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
1951-07-099 July 1951 Goossens Judith Judith Sydney Conservatorium of Music Goossens Sutherland's first complete staged opera
1952-07-1616 July 1952 Puccini tabarroIl tabarro Giorgetta Parry Theatre, RCM Richard Austin Peter Rice/Pauline Elliot
1952-10-2828 October 1952 Mozart Magic FluteThe Magic Flute First lady ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Messel Sutherland's professional debut
1952-11-033 November 1952 Verdi Aida High Priestess ROH, Covent Garden Barbirolli Cruddas
1952-11-088 November 1952 Bellini Norma Clotilde ROH, Covent Garden Gui Barlow
1952-12-2929 December 1952 Verdi balloUn ballo in maschera Amelia ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Barlow/Stone Sutherland's first leading role
1953-02-2424 February 1953 Mozart MarriageThe Marriage of Figaro Countess Almaviva ROH tour, Edinburgh J Gibson Gerard
1953-05-1313 May 1953 Strauss Elektra Overseer ROH, Covent Garden Kleiber Lambert
1953-08-1111 August 1953 Britten Gloriana Lady Rich ROH tour, Bulawayo
1953-10-1919 October 1953 Wagner WalkureDie Walküre Helmwige ROH, Covent Garden Stiedry Pemberton
1953-11-022 November 1953 Bizet Carmen Frasquita ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Wakhévitch
1954-02-044 February 1954 Verdi Aida Aida ROH, Covent Garden E Young Cruddas
1954-03-2323 March 1954 Weber FreischutzDer Freischütz Agathe ROH, Covent Garden Downes Furse
1954-04-3030 April 1954 Piccinni buona figliuolaLa buona figliuola Lucinda Mackerras BBC radio broadcast
1954-05-2727 May 1954 Wagner RingDer 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
1954-11-1717 November 1954 Offenbach contesLes contes d'Hoffmann Antonia ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
1955-01-2727 January 1955 Tippett MidsummerThe Midsummer Marriage Jenifer ROH, Covent Garden Pritchard Hepworth World premiere; Sutherland created the role
1955-02-2828 February 1955 Offenbach contesLes contes d'Hoffmann Giulietta ROH tour, Glasgow Downes Wakhévitch
1955-06-1919 June 1955 Offenbach contesLes contes d'Hoffmann Olympia ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
1955-09-3030 September 1955 Weber Euryanthe Euryanthe Stiedry BBC radio broadcast
1955-10-3030 October 1955 Bizet Carmen Micaela ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
1956-03-1111 March 1956 Mozart clemenzaLa clemenza di Tito Vitellia Pritchard BBC radio broadcast
1956-11-1010 November 1956 Mozart MagicThe Magic Flute Pamina ROH, Covent Garden J Gibson Messel
1957-01-2828 January 1957 Wagner MeistersingerDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg Eva ROH, Covent Garden Kubelík Wakhévitch
1957-03-1919 March 1957 Handel Alcina Alcina St Pancras Town Hall Farncombe
1957-06-088 June 1957 Verdi Rigoletto Gilda ROH, Covent Garden Downes Gellner
1957-07-055 July 1957 Mozart SchauspieldirektorDer Schauspieldirektor HertzMme Hertz Glyndebourne Festival Opera Balkwill Rice
1957-08-1616 August 1957 Scarlatti Mitridate Eupatore Laodice Appia BBC radio broadcast
1957-09-088 September 1957 Donizetti Emilia di Liverpool Emilia Pritchard BBC radio broadcast
1957-12-2121 December 1957 Verdi Otello Desdemona ROH, Covent Garden Downes Wakhévitch
1958-01-1616 January 1958 Poulenc Dialogues of the Carmelites LidoineMme Lidoine ROH, Covent Garden Kubelík Wakhévitch
1958-05-2424 May 1958 Haydn Applausus Musicus Temperantia Newstone BBC radio broadcast
1958-07-2626 July 1958 Mozart Don Giovanni Donna Anna Vancouver Opera Goldschmidt Maximowna
1959-02-1717 February 1959 Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor Lucia ROH, Covent Garden Serafin Zeffirelli This performance marked the beginning of Sutherland's international career
1959-06-2424 June 1959 Handel Rodelinda Rodelinda Sadler's Wells Theatre Farncombe Pidcock
1960-01-088 January 1960 Verdi traviataLa traviata Violetta Valéry ROH, Covent Garden Santi Fedorovitch
1960-05-2424 May 1960 Bellini puritaniI puritani Elvira Glyndebourne Festival Opera Gui Heeley
1960-10-1919 October 1960 Bellini sonnambulaLa sonnambula Amina ROH, Covent Garden Serafin Sanjust
1961-02-2121 February 1961 Bellini Beatrice di Tenda Beatrice New York Town Hall Rescigno Concert performance; Sutherland first performed this role on stage on 10 May 1961
1962-01-044 January 1962 Mozart MagicThe Magic Flute The Queen of the Night ROH, Covent Garden Klemperer Eisler
1962-05-2828 May 1962 Meyerbeer HuguenotsLes Huguenots Maguerite de Valois La Scala Gavazzeni Nicola Benois
1962-12-1717 December 1962 Rossini Semiramide Semiramide La Scala Santini
1963-06-2020 June 1963 Handel Giulio Cesare Cleopatra Sadler's Wells Theatre Farncombe Warre
1963-10-1717 October 1963 Bellini Norma Norma Vancouver Opera Bonynge McLance/Mess
1965-03-099 March 1965 Gounod Faust Marguerite Connecticut Opera Bonynge Rome/Brooks van Horne
1966-06-022 June 1966 Donizetti filleLa fille du régiment Marie ROH, Covent Garden Bonynge Anni/Escoffier
1967-04-1010 April 1967 Delibes Lakmé Lakmé Seattle Opera Bonynge
1967-05-2121 May 1967 Haydn L'anima del filosofo Euridice Theater an der Wien Bonynge Ludwig
1971-11-1212 November 1971 Donizetti Maria Stuarda Maria Stuarda San Francisco Opera Bonynge Pizzi
1972-10-2626 October 1972 Donizetti Lucrezia Borgia Lucrezia Vancouver Opera Bonynge Varona
1974-10-2323 October 1974 Massenet Esclarmonde Esclarmonde San Francisco Opera Bonynge Montressor
1975-09-1212 September 1975 Verdi trovatoreIl trovatore Leonora San Francisco Opera Bonynge Hager/Skalicki
1976-04-2222 April 1976 Lehár MerryThe Merry Widow Hanna Glavari Vancouver Opera Bonynge Varona
1977-06-1616 July 1977 Puccini Suor Angelica Suor Angelica Sydney Opera House Bonynge Digby
1977-09-2323 September 1977 Massenet roiLe roi de Lahore Sita Vancouver Opera Bonynge Mariani
1979-07-044 July 1979 Mozart Idomeneo Electra Sydney Opera House Bonynge Truscott
1980-07-022 July 1980 Verdi masnadieriI masnadieri Amalia Sydney Opera House Bonynge Lees/Stennett
1983-05-2222 May 1983 Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur Adriana San Diego Opera Bonynge O'Hearn/Mess
1984-06-2222 June 1984 Donizetti Anna Bolena Anna Bolena Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Bonynge Pascoe/Stennett
1985-10-044 October 1985 Thomas Hamlet Ophélie Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Bonynge Shalicki/Digby/Stennett



Sutherland made various recital and lieder recordings, usually with Richard Bonynge, many of them originally double-LPs. Some are still available in CD-format.

In 2011 Decca re-released these recitals in a 23-CD set (Complete Decca Studio Recitals, Decca 4783243) comprising:

  • Operatic Arias (1959)
  • The Art of the Prima Donna (1960) 2CD
  • Command Performance (1962) 2CD
  • The Age of Bel Canto (with Marilyn Horne and Richard Conrad, 1963) 2CD
  • Joy to the World (Christmas Album, 1965)
  • The Noël Coward Album (1966)
  • Love Live Forever (1966) 2CD
  • Romantic French Arias (1969) 2CD
  • Songs My Mother Taught Me (1972)
  • Operatic Duets (with Luciano Pavarotti, 1976)
  • Serate Musicali (1978) 2CD
  • Sutherland sings Wagner (1978)
  • Sutherland sings Mozart (1979)
  • Bel Canto Arias (1985)
  • Talking Pictures (1986)
  • Romantic Trios, Songs for soprano, horn and piano (1987)
  • Rarities and first recordings (1958/59 to 1967/68)

Opera recordings (non-exhaustive)

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, recorded 1966 Decca
  • 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 (Zuniga), Jean Prudent (Le Dancaire), Alfred Hallet (Le Remendado), Claude Cales (Morales). Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, recorded 1963

Giovanni 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 (two LPs), CD release: 414 520-2 DH2 (two 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 and 1–10 July 1970. Original LP release: SET 503-5 (three LPs), CD release: 414 461-2 DH2 (two CDs), CD re-release: 475 7514 DOR2 (two CDs).
  • 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 24 June 1959—Opera D'oro OPD 1189 (two CDs) or Memories HR 4577–4578 or Living Stage LS 403 35147 (highlights).
  • Rodelinda—Joan Sutherland (Rodelinda), Huguette Tourangeau (Bertarido), Éric 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.

Jules Massenet

Giacomo Meyerbeer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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

Richard Wagner

  • Siegfried—Joan Sutherland as the Woodbird, Vienna Philharmonic (Sir Georg Solti) 1962 recording, London 414 110-2


  1. ^ Australian Soprano Dame Joan Sutherland dies
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Icons of Opera – Dame Joan Sutherland", Opera Britannia (6 July 2009). Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  3. ^ Major, Norma (1992). "Sutherland, Dame Joan". In  
  4. ^ "Young soprano triumphs", The West Australian (4 October 1949)
  5. ^ Martin Cooke: Vale Ken Neate
  6. ^ Performers' Report, MetOpera database
  7. ^ Sutherland – Bonynge Concert
  8. ^ by Donal Henahan, NYT, 16 February 1986Music View: Mystery of Casting at the Met
  9. ^ Joan Sutherland, Russell Braddon, Collins, 1962
  10. ^ Joan Sutherland talks about high notes—part 2 on YouTube
  11. ^ "Australia." The 1991 World Book Year Book. Chicago:World Book, Inc., 1991. ISBN 0-7166-0491-4.
  12. ^ a b Martin Kettle, "I didn't want to be a diva", The Guardian, 8 May 2002.
  13. ^ "Dame Joan Sutherland". Sunday Profile ( 
  14. ^ Hide, Carolyn (1996). "Background Paper 9 1995–96: The Recent Republic Debate—A Chronology". Background Papers published 1995–96. Australian Parliamentary Library. Archived from the original on 1 February 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2007. 7 October 1994 Dame Joan Sutherland addressed a lunch organised by  
  15. ^ Dad and Dave: On Our Selection at the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ "One Long Flat Note", Anthony Clarke, The Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, 20 December 1997, p. 10
  17. ^ Library Review –
  18. ^ "John Major", profile at the British Prime Minister's Office Archived 16 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Alberto Mattioli, 'Big Luciano, un video per la Stupenda Joan', La Stampa, 23 May 2007.
  20. ^ BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2005 at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 February 2006).
  21. ^ "Opera legend Joan Sutherland, 81, recovering after breaking both her legs in a fall at home" Daily Mail (7 July 2008)
  22. ^ a b "Opera star Dame Joan Sutherland dies aged 83". BBC News Online. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  23. ^ "Family: Soprano Joan Sutherland has died, age 83". Associated Press. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "My last days with opera's grandest dame Joan Sutherland".  
  25. ^ a b c Westwood, Matthew (12 October 2010). "Voice of the century, Dame Joan Sutherland, dies aged 83".  
  26. ^ Collett-White, Mike (11 October 2010). "Opera great Joan Sutherland dies aged 83". Reuters. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  27. ^ Barry, Colleen; Jahn, George (11 October 2010). "Joan Sutherland, 'voice of the century,' dies". Associated Press. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  28. ^ "Joan Sutherland dies at 83,'". Archived from the original on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  29. ^ Joyce Morgan, 'A Fitting Finale for La Stupenda'
  30. ^ "A Service of Thanksgiving for the late Dame Joan Sutherland" at Westminster Abbey
  31. ^ a b c d "Joan Sutherland: My Starter Diva" by John Yohalem, Opera Today (13 October 2010)
  32. ^ [27 September 2006] – Dame Joan Sutherland, soprano Portrait (1926–2010)
  33. ^ Joan Sutherland, une diva s’en va | Next
  34. ^ "Music: Sutherland: A Separate Greatness".  
  35. ^ a b Tommasini, Anthony. "Joan Sutherland, Flawless Soprano, Is Dead at 83". The New York Times. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011. (subscription required)
  36. ^ Boehm, Mike (12 October 2010). "Joan Sutherland dies at 83; ranked among the most powerful divas of the 20th century". Los Angeles Times. 
  37. ^ Natalie Dessay talks about Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas on YouTube. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  38. ^ Joan Sutherland talks about high notes on YouTube. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  39. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  40. ^  
  41. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  42. ^ It's an Honour: DBE
  43. ^ It's an Honour: OM
  44. ^ Tait History
  45. ^ "Sir Frank Tait 1883–1965", Live Performance Australia – Hall of Fame
  46. ^ "The Passing of Opera Legend Dame Joan Sutherland", The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (12 October 2010)
  47. ^ "Jessica Pratt vince la XV edizione del premio Pagliughi" by Federica Bianchi, Commune di Cesena, 2 May 2013
  48. ^ "Dame Joan Sutherland (soprano)". Gramophone. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  49. ^ 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

  • Brian Adams, "La Stupenda A biography of Dame Joan Sutherland" Hutchinson Australia, 1980, ISBN 0-09-137411-1
  • Norma Major Joan Sutherland: The Authorized Biography Queen Anne P, 1987, ISBN 0-356-12693-5, ISBN 978-0-356-12693-7 / Little Brown & Co, 1994, ISBN 0-316-54555-4, ISBN 978-0-316-54555-6
  • The Autobiography of Joan Sutherland—A prima donna's progress Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997, ISBN 0-297-81321-8

External links


  • ABC Sunday Profile interview: Dame Joan Sutherland
  • Arts and Culture: Ch. Purdy Interview with Dame Sutherland, November 2006
  • Joan Sutherland interview by Bruce Duffie



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