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The Great Australian Soprano Dame Joan Sutherland Has Died At 83.

 Opera fans the world over are mourning the passing of one of the greatest voices in the history of the art form. Australian-born soprano Dame Joan Sutherland was 83 and had been suffering from an undisclosed ailment for some time.

 Dame Joan was known to opera fans as "La Stupenda" for her extraordinary soprano voice,which combined the power of a dramatic soprano with the agility and finesse of a coloratura ,or soprano who can sing the highly decorated vocal lines of the so-called "Bel Canto" (beautiful singing) operas of early 19th century Italian opera, a rare combination.

  Sutherland was originally destined to become a Wagnerian soprano, but her husband ,Australian conductor,pianist and scholar Sir Richard Bonynge 80, who survivies her,and  a leading  authority on Bel Canto music, steered her toward the music of composers such as Rossini,Donizetti and Bellini, as well as to French opera ,back in the 1950s. 

  With her remarkable vocal talent,Dame Joan rose to prominence in the operatic world beginning in the late 1950s ,singing at London's Royal Opera and other leading European opera houses, finally making her Metropolitan debut in the early 60s ,and making numerous best-selling recordings of operas by Verdi,Bellini,Donizetti, Gounod, Rossini,Offenbach, Massenet and other composers, many with her frequent partner,the late great tenor Luciano Pavarotti, with her husband conducting.

  Before Dame Joan and the vastly different Maria Callas (1923-1977 ) came to prominence , many of these Bel Canto operas had been neglected for a century or more because of a lack of singers able to do them justice.  Sutherland was sometimes criticized for concentrating on beauty of sound and  spectaculartechnique at the expense of clear diction and dramatic intensity, but she worked hard to improve her diction and  her acting skills .But her many fans idolized her despite any faults she may have had; she radiated star quality.

  Among her most famous roles were the hapless Scottish girl Lucy in Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor ,the vengeful Druid priestess Norma in Bellini's opera of the same name, the charming Tomboy Marie in Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment,Lakme  the daughter of a Brahmin priest in India  in the opera of that name by French composer Leo Delibes, the Parisian courtesan Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, and Gilda, hapless daughter of the hunchback court jester Rigoletto.  Her recordings of these and many other roles have been best-sellers for decades and are still very much available,as well as some performances on DVD. 

  Despite her glamorous career, Dame Joan was an unpretentious , amiable and down-to-earth lady who enjoyed being a homebody,knitting and gardening . She wil go down in operatic history as one of the greatest .

Posted: Oct 11 2010, 05:42 PM by the horn | with no comments
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