Joan Sutherland, the discreet legend

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Dame Joan Sutherland

Dear opera lover,

The same year when John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married in Gibraltar and got to bed  totally naked for seven days in a luxurious hotel –half of the world watching–, 1969, Joan Sutherland recorded Les Huguenots with her husband Richard Bonynge G. Meyerbeer’s. This last marriage was less celebrated than the above mentioned, but certainly happier for the couple (for it was their own) and for the History of music. If the Ono-Lennon duet marked the end of The Beatles as well as Lennon’s binding to the anticulture movement, that of Sutherland-Bonynge left since 1963 over thirty opera recordings and 17 live opera productions worldwide.

It is therefore the most prolific marriage in opera history. We could not understand ‘La Stupenda’s’ career, who turns 88 this month, without Richard Bonynge. Joan Sutherland is a lyric legend because of her endless possibilities of her amazing dramatic coloratura soprano voice. Her most historic significance though, her artistic legacy, was achieved in cooperation with her husband, for both together shed light to new opera repertoire and the work of both of them widened the lyric panorama, as Maria Callas had done previously.

This is their great legacy, which goes beyond their deficiencies in diction or their stratospheric higher tones, their melodious voices, or the maternal warmth of their roles on stage. Both were portents at tuning, at serving the arts, and not against art, which escaped personal interests. From their Lucia in London in 1959, the world discovered an unrivaled artist whose voice, in her birthday, keeps drawing opera lovers all around the world.

Francisco García-Rosado