Just two weeks ago I heard on the radio a Metropolitan Opera Broadcast of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor." The voice was rock solid with incredible breath control and magnificent trills. I did not have to wait until the Act's end to recognize "La Stupenda."Now, Joan Sutherland, the unassuming Australian, who was one of the great sopranos of the second half of the twentieth century, has joined il coro dei serafini.Anthony Tommasini has a fine appreciation in today's Times. He writes:
Though never a compelling actress, Ms. Sutherland exuded vocal charisma, a good substitute for dramatic intensity. In the comic role of Marie in La Fille du Rgiment, she conveyed endearingly awkward girlishness as the orphaned tomboy raised by an army regiment, proudly marching in place in her uniform while tossing off the vocal flourishes.Ms. Sutherland was plain-spoken and down to earth, someone who enjoyed needlepoint and playing with her grandchildren. Though she knew who she was, she was quick to poke fun at her prima donna persona.I love all those demented old dames of the old operas, she said in a 1961 Times profile. All right, so theyre loony. The musics wonderful.
To see, and better hear, the "large walking column," here she sings the great aria, "Casta Diva," from Bellini's "Norma." "Loony," but stupendous.