It is with great sadness that we reflect upon the death of the great Australian soprano Dame Joan Sutherland, known by her legions of fans as "La Stupenda," who has died at the age of 83.
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
About the Author
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.
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