Dame Joan Sutherland dies at 83
Dame Joan Sutherland, the Australian opera singer, has passed away at her home in Switzerland after a battle with a long illness.
Born in Sydney, Sutherland retired from the stage almost 20 years ago and had been ill for many months after falling at her home at Les Avants, near Geneva.
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 as Alcina. She possessed a voice of beauty and power. Her friend Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the "Voice of the Century", while Montserrat Caballé described the Australian’s voice as being like "heaven".
After her debut in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, at Covent Garden in 1959, Sutherland sang at most of the world’s main opera houses, made a host of recordings, and become as famous as her great Australian predecessor, Dame Nellie Melba.
Sutherland was married for 56 years to the pianist and conductor Richard Bonynge, who survives her, along with their son, Adam. According to her family she died peacefully.
Her final stage appearance was in January 1991 in a gala production of Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Among her honours are a Companion of the Order of Australia, Dame of the British Empire, and the Order of Merit.
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