Joan Sutherland died Sunday, October 10. She was 83. No more superlatives than have been heaped on her are needed to commemorate her great talent and vocal accomplishments. She was a unique artist. Her many recordings speak more eloquently than any comments could. Below is the long duet that ends the first act of Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor. The tenor is Richard Tucker. The performance was recorded in New York in December of 1966.
Sutherland Tucker Lucia-1
Sutherland Tucker Lucia-2
I started at the top! My very first opera performance at age 16 was Joan in Lucia before she went to the Met. She had not yet recorded it so I memorized the Callas version. I had heard Joan do Ophelia’s mad scene on TV but was totally unprepared for the live instrument. Like from another galaxy. The glitter of those high notes!! I wished the mad scene would never end. Cioni was the tenor, not great, but so much sincerity that I was in tears for “Tu che a dio.” I saw her much later in Die Fledermaus with Sills and in concert with Tourangeau. By then I had much more appreciation of the richness and size of her voice, and the variety of her roles. The lady was a miracle.