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Dame Joan Sutherland

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joan sutherland

Joan Sutherland at the 27th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala held at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. on December 5, 2004.

Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Born:

November 7, 1926

Birthplace:

Sydney, Australia

Died:

October 11, 2010 in Les Avants, Switzerland

Also Known As:

Dame Joan Alston Sutherland was a well-known operatic soprano of the 20th century. Luciano Pavarotti referred to her as "the voice of the century." She earned the nickname "La Stupenda" after her well-received performance in La Scala, Milan.

Influence:

Joan Sutherland's early influence was her mother, Murial, who taught her how to sing and play the piano. In 1946, after winning a singing competition, Joan began studying with John and Aida Dickens. The following year, she made her singing debut in Sydney, playing the role of Dido in Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. In 1951, she made her operatic debut as Judith in Sir Eugene Goossens's opera Judith. After winning a scholarship, she moved to London where she studied with Clive Carey at the Royal College of Music. After being accepted into the Covent Garden company in 1952, she played the role of First Lady in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute. In 1961, she performed at the Metropolitan Opera (New York City) playing the title role in Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

Other Memorable Performances:

  • Played the title role in Vincenzo Bellini's Norma
  • Played the role of Cleopatra in George Frideric Handel's Giulio Cesare
  • Played the three sopranos in Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann
  • Interesting Facts:

    In 1954, she married Richard Bonynge, her accompanist and vocal coach. It was Bonynge who encouraged her to develop her coloratura range. In 1978, she was made a Dame of the British Empire and in 1991, received the Order of Merit. She retired in 1990. In 2004, she received a Kennedy Center Honor.

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