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Soprano Joan Sutherland, known as the best opera singer of her time, and perhaps the greatest soprano of the 20th century, died yesterday (Oct. 10) at age 83 at her home in Geneva. She and her husband, conductor Richard Bonynge, were instrumental in the growth of San Diego Opera. She sang her signature role of Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in 1974 in a performance conducted by Bonynge. She sang in other San Diego Opera performances conducted by Bonynge: Verdi's I Masnadieri (1984), Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur (1983) and Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus (1980), in which she was paired with the late Beverly Sills in a widely-celebrated event. Sutherland also appeared in three concerts for San Diego Opera: in 1987, 1981 and 1975.

She retired in 1990. Bonynge conducted a number of operas in San Diego after her retirement: Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (2006); Bellini's Norma (2003); Gounod's Faust (2001); Puccini's La Boheme (2000); Gounod's Romeo and Juliet (1998); Bizet's Carmen (1997); Verdi's La traviata (1997); Bellini's La Sonnambula (1994); Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann (1994); Massenet's Werther (1993); Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (1990) and Donizett's Daughter of the Regiment (1990).

Sutherland was a good friend of Ian Campbell, general director and artistic director of San Diego Opera. Both were originally from Australia. Campbell is also a good friend of Bonynge. Sutherland was credited with discovering and promoting tenor Luciano Pavarotti, then virtually unknown. Pavarotti also appeared in San Diego Opera productions, including La Boheme.

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Psycholizard Oct. 11, 2010 @ 1:03 p.m.

I learned this first here. No words can describe how great this lady is. Listen to her recordings, ten seconds will say more than the millions of words her singing inspired. Hear Joan Sutherland and learn what Bel Canto means.

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Don Bauder Oct. 11, 2010 @ 2:20 p.m.

Response to post #1: More than any other singer, Joan Sutherland was responsible for bringing back bel canto opera -- mainly music from the early 19th century featuring such composers as Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini. She also was instrumental in bringing back operas from the baroque era, such as Handel's Rodelinda. "Joan's death ends, at least for now, an era of full-voiced coloratura singing," says Ian Campbell, general director and artistic director of San Diego Opera. "It was not a matter of 'loudness' or 'volume' but of fullness, roundness. Joan's voice filled every corner of every opera house in which she sang with a warm, rich sound which seemed to embrace the listener." I'll have more on Ian's statement below.

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Don Bauder Oct. 11, 2010 @ 2:34 p.m.

IAN CAMPBELL RECALLS HIS FIRST MEETING WITH JOAN SUTHERLAND -- AND HIS LAST. Ian Campbell, general director and artistic director of San Diego Opera, recalls that Joan Sutherland became a smash hit in 1959. "She soon had conquered the major opera capitals of the world, and it was time to visit home [Australia]," says Campbell. In 1965, Sutherland and her conductor/husband Richard Bonynge did a series of opera performances throughout Australia. There was no full-time opera company in the country at that time. Campbell met her that year, and two years later became part of an ensemble that showcased Sutherland. In this period, Campbell also met Luciano Pavarotti, then a relatively-unknown tenor of 29. "I last saw her on June the second in London last year [2009]," recalls Campbell. She had retired 19 years earlier. Bonynge was conducting. Campbell sat a few seats from Sutherland. Everyone applauded as she came in. She had broken her legs and was struggling on two canes. "She was frail," recalls Campbell. "When I asked how she was managing her she replied in typical style, 'It's a bloody pain in the neck.'"

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 11, 2010 @ 4:18 p.m.

I learned this first here. No words can describe how great this lady is. Listen to her recordings, ten seconds will say more than the millions of words her singing inspired. Hear Joan Sutherland and learn what Bel Canto means.

TY. I will.

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Don Bauder Oct. 11, 2010 @ 8:19 p.m.

Response to posst #4: There are lots of Sutherland recordings around. We have listened to two tonight -- Handel's Rodelinda and Verdi's Rigoletto. She was unsurpassed. And a great lady. Best, Don Bauder

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