Dame Joan Sutherland 1926 - 2010

Dame Joan Sutherland, Photo: Alan Warren

Glyndebourne is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dame Joan Sutherland. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.

Dame Joan made her Glyndebourne debut in the 1956 Mozart bi-centenary season, singing the Countess in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro where her beautiful voice was used to great effect. She went on to sing roles in three further Mozart operas and then to create the role of Elvira in Glyndebourne’s first bel canto opera, I Puritani in 1960. This was her first attempt at a Bellini role and the critics were unanimous in hailing her effortless skill and artistry.

A Tribute from Sir George Christie

The greatest landmark in Joan Sutherland’s career was, as is widely known, her assumption in 1959 of the title role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor under Franco Zefferelli’s direction. I can think of few other performing artists to have achieved such a dramatic and successful change of direction in a career that was already well established.

Joan first appeared at Glyndebourne in 1956 as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and the First Lady in The Magic Flute. She returned the following year as Madame Herz in Mozart’s seldom performed Der Schauspieldirektor. Glyndebourne clearly held her in high regard; but it was Zefferelli’s discovery and exploitation of Joan’s wealth of talent which launched her on a stratospheric trajectory amongst the stars.

In 1960 Glyndebourne again engaged her as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and as Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani – an opera central to the bel canto repertoire which she so triumphantly espoused and reigned supreme in. At this point she soared into an orbit far beyond Glyndebourne’s unsubsidised reach. I remember her with much affection – a star unscathed by stellar status.

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Such a wonderful and lovely lady!

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