Dame Joan Sutherland Dies
Joan Sutherland's unique association with Decca began in 1959 with an LP of opera arias that included two scenes from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. It was in this role that she had rocketed to international stardom overnight, when Franco Zefirelli's Covent Garden production premiered on February 17, 1959. A complete Decca recording was made in 1961 under Sir John Pritchard, and a second recording, conducted by her husband and mentor Richard Bonynge and featuring Luciano Pavarotti was made in 1971. During her career Joan Sutherland sang the role of Lucia 233 times.
Joan Sutherland's connection with Decca was first established in 1958 with Handel's Acis and Galatea, which appeared on the company's L'Oiseau-Lyre label, and during the late 1950s and 1960s both she and Richard Bonynge (they married in 1954) were at the forefront of the Handel revival. It was during Venice performances of Handel's Alcina in 1960 that a journalist first dubbed her "La Stupenda."
In 1960 Joan Sutherland recorded what can only be described as one of the most famous vocal recitals in the history of the gramophone, The Art of the Prima Donna. Conceived and devised as a homage to prime donne of a bygone era, the album (released on two LPs) became an instant best-seller, won a Dutch Edison Award in 1961, and has never been out of the catalogue. It was also in 1961 that Joan Sutherland won a Grammy for the best classical performer of the year.
Decca sends its deepest appreciation and condolences to her husband Richard Bonynge and their son Adam.
Vice President, Publicity
Decca Label Group/Universal Music Classical
William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer
Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.
The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.