Dame Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)

Dame Joan Sutherland has died in Switzerland aged 83, following a long illness.

Australian soprano Dame Joan was renowned for her superb technique, including her use of coloratura, and received particular acclaim for her contribution to the revival of the bel canto repertoire.

It was a performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in 1959, in which she played the title role, that catapulted her to worldwide fame.

Dame Joan was revered by many in the business, including Montserrat Caballé, Luciano Pavarotti and New Zealander Dame Kiri te Kanawa, of whom she was a close friend.

Lyndon Terracini, Artistic Director of Opera Australia, said of Sutherland: “When she retired from the stage, she was already a legend and no operatic singer including [Dame Nellie] Melba, in my view, has had that impact, not only in her own art form but to the general public.”

Following an international career, singing in opera houses all over the world, Dame Joan retired to Les Avents, near Montreux in Switzerland, with her husband, conductor and pianist Richard Bonynge.


Anne-Marie Minhall spoke to Dame Joan Sutherland at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in November 2007. Listen to an excerpt below.