Dame Joan Sutherland (7 November 1926 – 10 October 2010), was an Australian dramatic coloratura soprano noted for her contribution to the renaissance of the bel canto repertoire from the late 1950s through to the 1980s.
One of the most remarkable female opera singers of the 20th century, she was dubbed La Stupenda by a La Fenice audience in 1960 after a performance of the title role in Handel’s Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power, combining extraordinary agility, accurate intonation, “supremely” pinpoint staccatos, a splendid trill and a tremendous upper register, although music critics often complained about the imprecision of her diction. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the “Voice of the Century”; Montserrat Caballé described the Australian’s voice as being like “heaven”.
Joan Sutherland – The Reluctant Prima Donna
Joan Sutherland – The Reluctant Prima Donna: This is the story of the transformation of a young Australian soprano called Joan Sutherland told through her own words and those of her contemporaries. An undistinguished opera singer for seven years, the roles of Lucia di Lammermoor and Alcina then launched an international career and earned her the reputation of La Stupenda. Her husband Richard Bonynge’s acute musical insight and imagination steered Sutherland into the vocal stratosphere in which she dominated, the Italian bel canto repertoire. And Franco Zeffirelli turned the awkward, self-conscious singer into a stage star, teaching her to move and act, releasing the passion in her to deliver the extraordinary performances that led to her international fame. Features thrilling musical moments and spine-tingling performances from Sutherland as she displays her breathtaking vocal dexterity in this tribute to her extraordinary talents.