Reacting to the passing of opera legend Joan Sutherland, the Dallas Opera’s General Director Keith Cerny sends his thoughts on the singer:
The word that Dame Joan had died at her home in Switzerland spread quickly through the company yesterday morning. Like opera lovers everywhere, we have so many indelible memories of her artistry. But the Dallas Opera is also singularly privileged to have had such a long-standing association with this tremendous woman, who altered the course of opera performance by securing the bel canto Renaissance initiated by her peer, the equally legendary Maria Callas, in the late 1950s and 60s.
We are deeply proud that we were the company where Dame Joan made her American debut in the American premiere of Handel’s “Alcina” in 1960, a work never before seen in the western hemisphere. She appeared several times at the Dallas Opera in the coming years and, finally, brought her career full-circle by starring in our 1989 production of Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” in her farewell American stage appearance with her husband and creative collaborator, Richard Bonynge at the podium.
Dame Joan possessed a voice of astonishing beauty and a technique that was, quite simply, without equal. Perhaps greatest of all, she inspired something beyond passion in her listeners, something akin to love. The Dallas Opera would like to extend our condolences to her husband, Richard, and to all those who feel the loss of this extraordinarily gifted and gracious singer.
Image: Joan Sutherland’s debut at the Met as captured by a LIFE Magazine photographer. Via operavision.