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:

And here’s her farewell to the same stage:

4 Comments to Dame Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)

  1. Greg's Gravatar Greg
    October 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    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's Gravatar Kate Maloy
    October 12, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

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

  3. October 13, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    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's Gravatar Jennifer Dodd
    October 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    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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