Dame Joan made Australia an opera nation

16:42, October 12, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

One of the great Australian opera singers of the 20th century, Dame Joan Sutherland, on Tuesday died, aged 83, at her home in Switzerland after a long illness.

Known as La Stupenda, which means the stunning one, for her incredible voice and performances, she was well known in the opera houses of Europe, North America and her native Australia.

Opera singers and directors from around the world have been praising the prodigious talent, and generous spirit of a woman credited with sharing her knowledge with many up and coming young performers.

The former chief executive of the Sydney Opera House, Norman Gillespie, said Dame Joan will be remembered as one of the great operatic icons of the 20th century.

"The legacy is there in the recordings. We're so fortunate she made so many, all from Handel up to the romantic period, Donizetti and Bellini," Gillespie told Australia Associated Press on Tuesday.

"She will live on forever with that extraordinary voice.

"She was a great ambassador for Australia, loved and celebrated all around the world - extraordinary voice, extraordinary woman."

Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini said Dame Joan, who made her name in the United Kingdom, along with her conductor husband Richard Bonynge, had done much for opera in Australia.

On their return to Australia, their opera company had given many others opportunities, and in her role as Opera Australia music director Dame Joan had boosted the art's profile.

"I think she transcended not only the operatic form but was a great communicator to the wider public," Terracini told Australia Associated Press.

"I think it would be fair to say she was Bradmanesque."

Meanwhile, Opera Australia chief executive Adrian Collette remembered Dame Joan as a humble performer who was also very exacting about the art form.

"Without Dame Joan, you wouldn't have a modern-day opera company in Australia of the scale and size we have now," he told ABC Television.

Dame Joan was also concerned about young singers.

"She had a really inspiring interest in development of young singers," Collette said.

"She thought that many of them were hastening too quickly and didn't take years of time to fully mature their voice without losing its beauty."

Dame Joan came to prominence in the late 1950s and soon earned her nickname after a performance in Italy in 1960.

Her most famous role was the lead in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which she performed 233 times.

Dame Joan's funeral will be a small family commemoration.

Source: Xinhua(By Vienna Ma)


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Chinese Navy soldiers hold an evening party marking the upcoming 62nd National Day aboard Chinese Navy hospital ship "Peace Ark" in the Pacific on Sept. 28, 2011. The Chinese National Day falls on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2011 shows the crowd at the plaza of Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, capital of China. The railway transportation witnessed a travel peak with the approach of the seven-day National Day holidays on Friday. (Xinhua)
  • A man wearing high-heel shoes takes part in the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event when men literally walk in women's shoes to raise awareness about ending violence against women, at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows a cargo ship in danger on the sea near Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province. Cargo ship Fangzhou 6 of Qingzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region lost control after water stormed into its cabin due to Typhoon Nesat on the sea near Zhuhai Thursday, leaving 12 crew members in danger. Rescuers rushed to the ship and saved them by using a helicopter. (Xinhua)
  • Actress Gong Li poses for L'Officiel Magazine. (Xinhua Photo)
  • Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold placards as they march in the financial district of New York September 29, 2011. After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away. Zuccotti Park is a campground festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Hot Forum Discussion