Joan Sutherland Sings the Mad Scene from Lucia

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Since the passing of soprano Joan Sutherland on Monday, fans are remembering her great performances. She made her breakthrough in a London performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in 1959. She again sang it to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera in 1961. In this excerpt from WQXR's "A Musical Review of 1961," we hear the famous "Mad Scene" in its entirety.

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Courtesy of the NYPR Archives

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Comments [3]

jack smith from Tauranga nz

still cant resist hearing Joan Suthlerland sing the mad scene

Nov. 30 2012 09:19 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from

SUTHERLAND, whose original interest was in performing Brunnhildes was convinced by her future husband Maestro Richard Bonynge, that she could contribute far more to the music scene as a dramatic coloratura, rescueing baroque and bel canto operas as had Maria Callas, to present masterworks where the VOICE was the prime interest, not the mise en scene total theater, represented by the Romantic Age and Verismo.
I was on the roster of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo,Italy when she sang her Lucia there opposite Gianni Raimondi. Gianni and I were studying with Gennaro Barra Caracciolo, head vocal coach at La Scala, in Milano, where we both were preparing with Barra's help for and before the 1963 Palermo season. Gianni Raimondi, who was a leading tenor at La Scala and the "Met' Opera, told me that I would be amazed at her ease of vocal production, her precise attack on high notes and the power of her voice. When the performance day arrived, I was even more amazed than Gianni had made me to anticipate.
My ten language solo debut in the main hall, now named the Isaac Stern Auditorium, of Carnegie Hall on April 24, 1955 was prepared with the former, singing leads opposite Caruso,"Met" Opera's dramatic coloratura Frieda Hempel's help. I mentioned Hempel's name to Sutherland and she was ecstatic over Hempel's voice from recordings. Hempel was the original Marschallin in the Berlin Opera and Met Opera premieres. Without a doubt Sutherland had the biggest soprano coloratura voice that we can judge from performances and recordings. Ever, the comedian when the occasion would permit, she told of when she was getting her passport renewed in Australia, the clerk asked for her identification. She told the clerk, 'Everyone knows me here, I'm Joan Sutherland. She had no ID on her and no one in the office ever heard of her. "If they don't know me here, where would they know me" To say that she was angry and peeved beyond words would be an understatement. But, she was also amused.
Luckily, video and sound-only recordings will keep generations of music lovers appreciative of her gorgeous, generous voicing of a wide "rep."
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor and director, the Richard Wagner Music Drama institute.,
where one may download FREE 37 complete selections from my three Isaac Stern Auditorium solo concerts, each about 3 hours long, and my joint recital at the same venue, by going to "Recorded Selections."

Oct. 14 2010 11:14 AM
paul smith from new jersey

such a great loss just a powerful singer

Oct. 14 2010 10:25 AM

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