Project Description



Born in Sydney in on November 7th 1926, Joan Sutherland found early fame in Australia before heading over to study in London in 1949 where she was very soon engaged to perform at the pinnacle venue of the opera world, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Performing all over the world she earned the nickname La Stupenda (“The Stunning One”) before heading back to Australia in 1965.

Here, with JC Williamsons she helped establish the Sutherland Williamson Grand Opera Season at Her Majesty’s Theatre, reviving the tradition of the Melba Williamson Opera Seasons of the 1920s, and starring alongside Sutherland was an up and coming 29 year old by the name of Luciano Pavarotti.

The Sutherland Williamson season was a sensational success, and after taking 20 curtain calls on opening night, Joan remarked ‘it is like a football final!’ Pavarotti, who says he found his voice in Australia, credits Joan Sutherland with changing his whole career. His memory of the tour was that he gained so much experience working with Joan that he finally entered into the real, big door of opera.

A true international opera superstar, Joan Sutherland was bestowed the honour of being named a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1979. She sadly passed away in 2010, at the grand age of 83, and holds not only a special place in the hearts of all Australians, but will forever have a home here at the Maj.

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