ARTS (Music & Voice)

Joan Sutherland
Australia Crest

Internationally renowned soprano singer born in Sydney on the 9th November, 1926. Joan is now simply known as 'La Stupenda', a name given to her by adoring Italian audiences.

Joan won a scholarship in 1946 and studied under John and Aida Dickens.

Her mother encouraged her to pursue an opera career and she debuted in 1947 in Purcell's Dido.

In 1949 she won the Sun Aria Competition and after winning the Mobil quest in 1950, she went to London in 1951 where she studied with Clive Carey at the Opera School of the RCM.

Earlier in 1951 she had sung the title role in the world premiere of Eugene Goosen's Judith at the Sydney Conservatorium.

She made her debut at Covent Garden on 28th October, 1952 in The Magic Flute. Her career was now influenced by Richard Bonynge who was convinced that her career lay in the coloratura repertoire.

Joan Sutherland


In Lucia di Lammermoor performed at Covent Garden in 1959, she was being coached in acting by film director Franco Zeffirelli and her performances were so powerful the audiences almost rioted at curtain calls.

Her performance in Lucia at La Scala in 1961 is regarded by many as her greatest triumph.

In 1961 Joan was named the first female Australian of the Year.

After Bellini's Norma in Vancouver in 1963 she was noted for bel canto roles.

Joan toured Australia in 1965 and 1974 after the formation of the Sutherland-Williamson International Grand Opera Company and from 1976 sang with the Australian Opera in The Tales Of Hoffman (singing all four roles), ,i>Norma, La Traviata, Lucrezia Borgia and Lucia di Lammermoor.

In 1979 she was created a Dame of the British Empire.

She was a leading light on world stages from the 50s until her retirement on October 2nd, 1990, when she gave her farewell performance as Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots at the Sydney Opera House.

Her Covent Garden farewell was as a guest performer in the 1990 New Year's Eve performance of The Merry Widow when she sang duets with Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne. She also sang "Home, Sweet Home", a favourite encore item (as it was of Dame Nellie Melba).

In 1991 she was awarded the prized Order of Merit, an honour rarely awarded to musicians, the previous musical recipient being England's Edward Elgar.

In retirement, she is in demand as an adjudicator at major singing competitions around the world and is a regular member of the panel at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

Joan is a keen embroiderer and used to needle away before going on stage to sing.

Joan is married to the conductor, Richard Bonynge.

Joan Sutherland in the centre.


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