Worship at the Abbey

A Service of Thanksgiving for the late Dame Joan Sutherland

15th February 2011 at 12:00 pm

A Service of Thanksgiving for the late Dame Joan Sutherland was held in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 15 February at 12 noon.

Dame Joan Sutherland was regarded as one of the greatest opera singers of the twentieth century.

She was dubbed 'La Stupenda' by an Italian audience after a performance at La Fenice in Venice, and described by Luciano Pavarotti, with whom she frequently sang, as 'the greatest voice of the century'.

Her stellar career stretched from her concert debut in Sydney in 1946, to her final performances at the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1990. It was a legendary performance of Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor' at Covent Garden in February 1959 that opened the door to international fame and she went on to sing in all the major opera houses of the world with many of the world's greatest singers. She became the leading exponent of the eighteenth and nineteenth century bel-canto repertory, bringing before the public many unfamiliar works that are now standard operatic fare.

In partnership with her husband, the conductor, Richard Bonynge, she revitalised opera in Australia in the 1960s with the Sutherland-Williamson Grand International Opera Company, and subsequently played a pivotal role in the development of the Australian Opera.

After her retirement Dame Joan continued to support and nurture young singers, as an adjudicator of singing competitions and as an active Patron of several music charities. She leaves a huge legacy of recorded music.