By 1981, when this production was taped for Canadian television, Joan Sutherland's voice was unquestionably past its prime. But even in its decline, that voice remained something quite special, and the role of the troubled Druid priestess Norma was one of her specialties. A substantial advantage in this recording is the presence at the podium of her husband and coach, Richard Bonynge, who had a deep understanding of the strengths and limitations of her voice and stage persona. His pacing and balance give the voice opportunities to challenge, at least momentarily, the ravages of time. Lotfi Mansouri, one of the great operatic entrepreneurs of the late 20th century, assembled a first-class supporting cast for Sutherland–most notably Tatiana Troyanos, to whose memory this video is dedicated. The performance of Troyanos in the role of the younger and equally troubled priestess Adalgisa is outstanding and would make this disc worth having even without its documentation of Sutherland. As far as it is possible to determine, this is the only video opera appearance of tenor Francisco Ortiz. On the basis of his performance as the Roman officer Pollione, he seems to have deserved more attention. Bass Justino Diaz gives a sterling performance as the old Druid Oroveso. (Joe McLellan)
Bellini’s Norma contains one of the most impressive and also most difficult soprano roles in the whole repertoire of opera. Few sopranos can do justice to it. The first of those who have must surely be Maria Callas, considered the outstanding interpreter of the title part. The role, along with Bellini"s opera, was interpreted in a revolutionary fashion by Joan Sutherland (born in Sydney 1926). She is the protagonist in the present recording made at the Sydney Opera House in August 1978. "La Stupenda", as Joan Sutherland was known in musical circles, ended her international career in 1990. The celebrated production by Sandro Sequi, with Fiorella Mariani"s lavish décor and costumes, concentrates entirely on the human destiny of a woman on the edge of her existence. He intelligently brings forth the priestess’ emotional world, hence showing the many facets of Norma"s character. The whole drama of events on the stage is reflected in the orchestra pit, and musical director Richard Bonynge demonstrates once again his competence for great musical theatre.
Joan Sutherland was at the height of her career when she took on the role of Leonora – arguably the most dramatic of all Verdi heroines – in 1983. Elijah Moshinsky’s production, in which he was ably supported by the Australian artist Sidney Nolans (set design), Luciana Arrighi (costumes) and Nick Chelton (lighting), was tailor-made for Sutherland, allowing Leonora to develop into a truly tragic heroine occupying the opera’s central ground. This performance at the Australian Opera, Sydney – and featuring a high quality cast under the baton of Richard Bonynge – was recorded by Australian Television on 2nd July 1983. Verdi’s powerful and passionate opera tells a tale of civil war and treachery.
“Sutherland's singing here is brighter and fresher than her earlier recording, with the lovely aria 'Qui la voce' no longer a wordless melisma…The recording is vivid and atmospheric and one marvels at Bellini's gorgeous melodies…with Sutherland, Bonynge and all on electrifying form.” (The Penguin Guide)
Donizetti's rollicking comic opera The Elixir of Love receives a scintillating performance in this early 1970's London/Decca recording. Featuring an unbeatable cast, headed by Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti, this wonderful interpretation demonstrates singing of the highest levels of artistic integrity- definitive, passionate, lyrical, committed. The English Chamber Orchestra responds to Richard Bonynge's direction to provide sharp, colorful orchestral support, and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus' performance can only be described as brilliant.
This recording of LA TRAVIATA is the third one in my collection (the other two being the Cotrubas/Kleiber and the Callas/Giulini recordings), and am I glad I bought it! As superb as those other two recordings are, I actually LIKE this one the most. It is an all-around excellent performance. Bergonzi's is possibly the finest Alfredo on any complete recording; Merrill is perfectly suited to Germont; Pritchard paces the opera beautifully; the recorded sound is spacious, with lots of atmosphere in the party scenes. But the real surprise of the recording is Sutherland. She brings all of her distinctive gifts to the role of Violetta: a ripe, beautiful voice; supreme coloratura ability; a talent for conveying pathos…
Recorded in 1967, the recording features Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti at the high-noon of their careers! Pavarotti, with great charm and humor, tosses off endless high notes in a barnstorming performance. Sutherland easily tackles the great vocal demands and gives an effortlessly stunning performance. No other recording of this opera has come close to surpassing this classic for vocal beauty and sheer thrills!
In 1959 a young Australian soprano burst upon the international scene with a sensational performance of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. That soprano was Joan Sutherland, and now, 50 years later, Decca celebrates the prima donna in her most acclaimed role. Decca proudly presents, in a deluxe limited-edition, the soprano's 1971 landmark recording of Donizetti's opera. All the principal singers are here caught at the pinnacle of their careers, making this, quite possibly, the most beautiful Lucia ever captured on record.
This 1966 recording, billed as the first complete Semiramide on disc, with Joan Sutherland singing Semiramide and Marilyn Horne singing the trouser role Arsace, has long been considered the standard by which all other Semiramide's are measured. Although subsequently there have been more complete recordings, this remains among the best recorded performance and is a recommendation for every opera collection.