Listen to Dame Joan Sutherland’s personal selection of her favourite recordings which has been released for the first time. In her own liner notes for My Favourites Joan Sutherland explains, “When I was asked to choose a disc of my own favourite recordings I thought ‘What a good idea!’ In actual fact, it has become a torment as I have far too many favourites! I have ended up with a few pieces which have been part of my life and given me intense pleasure – a mixture of periods and styles with neither rhyme nor reason! I hope everyone will find something to enjoy. For me it has been a great sentimental journey into my enchanted past.”
The Voice of the Century
With barely a shadow of permissible exaggeration The Voice of the Century was Decca’s title for a 1977 compilation of arias from the defining roles sung by Dame Joan Sutherland. When she died in 2010 Opera magazine acclaimed her still as “one of the voices of the century” who almost single-handedly – with the support of her husband and mentor, Richard Bonynge – restored the bel canto repertoire to the opera house. Joan Sutherland’s personal selection of her own favourite recordings, from a Decca catalogue featuring award-winning albums, has now been released to commemorate the tenth anniversary of her death. This collection, celebrating Joan Sutherland’s life and career, includes previously unpublished photographs, a series of costume designs for her key operatic roles, plus her recipe for a delicious, rich, old-fashioned Christmas Pudding.
Joan Sutherland’s introductions make this particular collection unique
Joan Sutherland’s introductions to each track featured on My Favourites make this particular collection unique. When choosing them she could look back over a career spanning more than 40 years, from her career-launching competition win in Sydney in 1949 singing ‘Ritorna Vincitor’, to her first Alcina in 1957, and her famous Royal Opera Lucia in 1959 that floored the critics.
However, Joan’s Sutherland’s selection does not include such vocal blockbusters. She has included moving scenes from her favourite operas Norma and Esclarmonde, as well as the brilliant finale of La Sonnambula. She has also chosen two arias from the eighteenth century, ‘Non han calma le mie pene’ from Graun’s Montezuma and ‘O Zittre Nicht’, the first aria performed by the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, that she loved singing.
Her favourites also include Glière’s Concerto (“such a relief not to have to remember the words”), ‘O Divine Redeemer’ (“Gounod is so underrated”), selections from operetta, including by Noël Coward who she recalls living next door to and working with (“I think he was quite pleased with me!”), and songs that she sang in recitals all over the world. Finally she pays tribute to her musical education in Sydney with ‘Love will find a way’ from The Maid of the Mountains.
In his liner notes Moffatt Oxenbould, who was Artistic Director of Opera Australia from 1984 – 1999 and was privileged to work with Joan Sutherland for many years, notes, “Naturally this collection of personal favourites among her recordings evokes many marvellous memories. It is a precious gift from a gracious lady – a glorious singer who brought beauty and joy into our lives.”
“[Sutherland] was one of the greatest singers of the last century”
Sir John Tooley observed, “[Sutherland] was one of the greatest singers of the last century, possessed of a voice second to none: warm even, flexible, large and wide-ranging, always used to musical and dramatic ends. It was a thrilling and glorious sound.”
The full tracklisting for Joan Sutherland – My Favourites is:
1 Graun Montezuma: ‘Non han calma le mie pene’
2 Mozart Die Zauberflöte: ‘O zittre nicht’
3–4 Bellini Norma: ‘Mira, O Norma’
5 Bellini La Sonnambula: ‘Ah! non giunge’
6 Verdi Attila: ‘Santo di patria’
7 Massenet Esclarmonde: ‘Esprits de l’air … Roland! Roland Roland!’
8 Leoni L’oracolo: ‘Ferito … L’hanno ferito’
9 Lecocq Le Cœur et la Main: ‘Un soir Perez le capitaine’
10 Offenbach Robinson Crusoé: ‘Conduisez-moi vers celui que j’adore’
11 Arditi ‘Il Bacio’
12 Hahn ‘Si mes vers avaient des ailes’
13 Gliére Concerto for Coloratura and Orchestra: I. ‘Andante’
14 Gounod ‘Repentir’ (‘O Divine Redeemer’)
15 Kreisler Sissy – ‘The King Steps Out: Stars in my eyes’
16 Coward Operette: ‘Countess Mitzi’
17 Benedict ‘The Gypsy and the Bird’
18 Fraser-Simson The Maid of the Mountains: ‘Love will find a way’
Joan Sutherland – My Favourites is out now and can be bought here.