Soprano Joan Sutherland Dies at 83

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dame Joan Sutherland, known fondly as "The Stupendous One" and one of the most admired sopranos of the 20th century has died in Switzerland, The Associated Press reports.


Sutherland was given the name "La Stupenda" after her Italian debut in 1960, The New York Times reports. The name endured. According to the AP, she was acclaimed from her native Australia to North America and Europe for the wide range of roles she took on during a career that spanned four decades.

Australia's The Age says Sutherland was first taught to sing by her mother before studying more formally. She made her stage debut in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in Sydney before moving on to international venues.  Sutherland sang at most of the world's major opera houses and became as famous as her Australian predecessor, Dame Nellie Melba.

Sutherland retired from the stage nearly two decades ago. She is survived by her husband, pianist and conductor Richard Bonynge.

Please share your stories and reflections about Sutherland in our comments space below the video.

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Comments [17]

david Galchutt from long beach, california

i am taking her loss quite hard and am having difficulty putting my emotions into words. there will never be another singer like her. i had the privilege to hear her in person 4 times (late in her career) and to meet her twice. i presented her with a painting i had done of her as norma and she was so gracious and completely down to earth. a most un-diva like diva and a great lady.

Oct. 16 2010 12:47 PM
Marc Lane

I am very sad that she has passed away. She will go down in history as the greatest soprano in opera. May God give her eternal life in the next world.

Oct. 12 2010 09:51 PM
Paul from Somerset, NJ

I am saddened to hear of the death of Dame Joan Sutherland, "La Stupenda." I am a huge fan of hers and took her nickname as my email address! I was never lucky enough to see her live, but thank goodness for all the wonderful DVDs and CDs that allow us to experience, relish and delight in the true "Voice of the Century." My favorite roles in her repertoire are, of course, Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia and Norma. I am SO very honored to share the same birthday with Dame Joan, November 7. Long live the greatest voice of the century.

Oct. 11 2010 02:57 PM
Ken from Grand Junction, CO

I first heard Sutherland in London in 1965. The first opera I heard was LUCIA, which was, of course, her signature role. Then I heard her do SONOMBULA. In this case the tenor was Luciano Pavarotti. On both occasions, I was with friends who wanted her autograph--the mob waiting with us huge. Anyway, I was able to hear her many more times in New York and in London, in twelve or fifteen roles. The one I liked her best in was Donna Anna. This was, as Beverly Sills once said, the great voice of second half of the last century.

Oct. 11 2010 02:29 PM
Marjan Kiepura from New Hampshire

I was very saddened by this news. I met Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge after her farewell concert at Avery Fisher Hall some years ago. It was one of those events one never forgets. But not because it was a “farewell” concert – but rather her artistry, the pauses, her breathing, her personality and the exquisite taste that she brought to everything she sang. And Richard Bonynge was a superb and loving collaborator.

Ms. Sutherland commented to me that she and her husband had been influenced after seeing my parents, Marta Eggerth and Jan Kiepura, singing "The Merry Widow" at London’s Palace Theater in 1954. She subsequently went on to make a CD of operetta arias and referred to my parents in the liner notes and her book. My mother adored her singing and went to the Met many times to hear her.

Oct. 11 2010 02:19 PM
George Jochnowitz from New York

In 1961 I was living in Philadelphia. Joan Sutherland came to perform there, and I went to the opera house with a colleague to see and hear her. Ther performance was wonderful, but I was coughing a lot. My colleague kept saying "Go home," but I felt I couldn't leave until this great musical experience was over.
A few days later I called the doctor and learned I had pneumonia. But during the performance, Sutherland had made me feel healthy.

Oct. 11 2010 02:16 PM
Carolyn from Bergenfield, NJ

By herself, she was amazing, but paired (or more) with the likes of Marilyn Horne and Luciano Pavarotti, the experience was sublime. I had the privilege of hearing her with Marilyn in Norma and with Luciano in Puritani, Lucia, etc., as well as the fabulous concert the 3 of them did in Avery Fisher Hall.
Three of the greatest voices of all time.

Oct. 11 2010 02:08 PM
Linda from NYC

Dame Sutherland was my first Lucia and I've been hooked on opera ever since.

Oct. 11 2010 02:04 PM
Lucille from New York

Too many years ago I saw an opera segment on the Ed Sullivan show. I was 14 years old and asked my mother if we could go see Lucia at a Met matinee. The experience shaped my life - my time, friends, choice of college courses were all influenced by that afternoon. Sutherland's incomparable voice led me first to bel canto, then to all opera and then to a love of music, old and new. There will never be another voice like hers, and I mourn her loss.

Oct. 11 2010 01:47 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

I adored Joan Sutherland and attended her performances every season at the Met. Her best role was Lucia di Lammermoor. She entered with a commanding presence during the Mad Scene and she did not need to start singing, she was already LUCIA. She was the best soprano, second only to Renata Tebaldi.

Oct. 11 2010 01:18 PM
cecile weissang from Milford , PA

I was privileged to be there at ME Mondasy nights wehen

I was privileged to be there at M ET monday nights when Dame Stherland reigned supreme. I morn her passing
and praise her living.

sutherland reigned supreme

Oct. 11 2010 01:15 PM
Janet Schwartz from Vacaville, CA

Her voice and performance style were inimitable. Her influence on the music we listen to today incalculable. I first discovered Joan Sutherland when my grandmother gave me an album of bel canto she recorded with Bonynge, Marilyn Horne, and Richard Conrad when I was 12 years old. I was privileged to hear her perform with Horne at the L.A. Music Center and have listened to her recordings with joy and amazement for many years since.

Oct. 11 2010 01:13 PM
janet levitt from New York, New York

There were so many wonderful hours spent listening to Dame Joan perform. You can never repay a soprano as great other than to say "thank you" for so many beautiful performances and hours of joy at Covent Garden and the Met. I am so glad that she lived in the age of recording so that her extraordinarily beautiful voice will live on and show another generation what true beauty is when it comes to the human voice.

Oct. 11 2010 01:12 PM
Amy from NYC

I just read about this on Facebook from one of my music colleagues from years ago. She was one of my idols. The thought of the world without Joan Sutherland is a sad one today.

Oct. 11 2010 01:07 PM

She was one of a kind. There will probably never be another one like her. Truly the "voice of the century" - any century.

Oct. 11 2010 12:33 PM
Joe Palau from NY, NY

I am grateful to live at a time when Dame Sutherland performed on the stages of the world. Her humanity and decency is as memorable as her musicianship and gifted intstrument. I plan to listen to her recordings for a week in grateful memory of the glories of her career and example of professionalism.

Oct. 11 2010 12:31 PM
Shoshana from NYC

I first discovered Joan Sutherland when I was about 15 (13 years ago). My dad gave me a CD of selected arias that I listened to a lot. She was my favorite opera singer and continues to be one of them.

Oct. 11 2010 12:30 PM

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