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     Sutherland, Dame Joan (7th November 1926-11th October 2010)

    She was a coloratura soprano nicknamed "La Stupenda" born in Sydney, Australia, where her mother was a mezzo-soprano who gave her much of her early musical education and used to sing with her.  When she was 16 she won the esteemed The Sun Aria competition in Australia and travelled to London to enter the Royal College of Music's Opera School.  In 1951 she debuted in England in Judith by Eugene Goossen, in 1952 she debuted in Australia in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and that same year she appeared as First Lady at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in Mozarts' Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute).  From then on she appeared numerous times at the Royal Opera House in London, premiering the work of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana.  In 1954 she met and married the conductor and pianist, Richard Bonynge, who encouraged her to perform more in the bel canto style, and over the next few years she would make many appearances in operas that were written in the Bel Canto and Baroque eras and had been largely forgotten.  In 1959 she reached "great diva" status with her performance in the "Mad Scene" as Lucia di Lammermoor in the opera of the same name and the following year she released the Grammy Award winning The Art of the Prima Donna, which would be one of the first of numerous recordings she would make throughout her career.  Appearing in all the important operatic venues around the world, she received the nickname "La Stupenda" in Venice, and appeared in several premieres such as Benjamin Britten's Gloriana and Francis Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites.  In the 1970s she was still as active as ever and after her diction had been criticised while she was trying to sing a perfect legato, she worked on it and came back with a noticed improvement that would allow her to continue her highly acclaimed performances.  Giving performances throughout the 1980s she retired in 1990 when she was 1964.  Her last role was in Les Huguenots where she played Marguerite de Valois and her final public appearance was with Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne in a gala performance of Die Fledermaus.  Recognised for her contribution to music, she was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1961, a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1975, a Dame Commander in 1975, had the prestigious Order of Merit bestowed on her by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honour in 2004.  The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Center in Penrith and Sutherland House at the St. Catherine's School in Sydney were named in her honour.  In 1998 in New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani named May 6th of that year as the city's Dame Joan Sutherland Day.  In October 2010 she passed away after suffering cardiopulmonary failure when she was 83 years old.  Memorial services were held for her in Australia, the UK and the USA.


    New Philharmonia Orchestra recordings

    Angels We Have Heard On High (Traditional French/James Chadwick/Edward Barnes)

    London 421-095 (CD: Joy of Christmas)

    Conductor - Richard Bonynge

    Soprano - Joan Sutherland

    Ambrosian Singers



    1. http://sopranos.freeservers.com/joansuth.htm
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Sutherland
    3. http://www.ffaire.com/sutherland/
    4. http://www.deccaclassics.com/artists/sutherland/biog.html
    5. http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=showIndividual&entitY_id=12123&source_type=A
    6. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Sutherland-Joan.htm


    Here she is singing "Tu del mio Carlo...Carlo vive!" from Verdi's I Masnadieri...









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