Dame Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)


Dame Joan Sutherland has died at her home in Switzerland. I wrote a little about my love affair with her voice here. For me, as for many, hers was the voice. What a legacy of beauty and joy she has left us. Here she is, from the treasure trove of material you can find on YouTube, singing ‘Regnava nel silenzio’ from Lucia di Lammermoor, recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1959–the beginning. Updated: the Covent Garden video is gone from YouTube, so here’s another splendid rendition:

4 thoughts on “Dame Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)

  1. Greg October 12, 2010 / 11:08 pm

    God, what a recording. I’ve listened to the Donizetti four times in a row now….

    We should all go to the Symphony next time you’re in Boston, if we can find a way to dress Steve appropriately.


  2. Kate Maloy October 12, 2010 / 11:39 pm

    Time listen to NORMA again, but with a hitch in my heart.


  3. Rohan October 13, 2010 / 10:43 am

    Greg–Yes, the purity and agility of her voice in those early performances is just astonishing, isn’t it? Though her technique is sometimes even better on the studio recordings, there’s also something I love about the buzz and crackle of the live ones. I have an old cassette recording of her singing Lucia live at the Met in 1982, and though the voice has become a lot heavier, the coloratura is still dazzling and the high notes are spot on–and the applause! I just love the applause. There’s so much excitement in it, and also affection.

    Kate–I have been doing a lot of listening too, including Norma. While it’s poignant, isn’t it also just wonderful to bask in the sound?


  4. Jennifer Dodd October 15, 2010 / 6:10 pm

    Although we have recordings and videos, nothing can match the actual sound of the Sutherland voice in a music hall or opera theatre. The voice was so full, so large, so agile that it inspired incredulity the first time one heard it live. Her voice in a staged opera was frequently so overpowering that it left one breathless. Even though she has not been on stage for twenty years I can still feel the quality of that voice in my head, because it never leaves my head.


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