We shall not see the like of her again - Dame Kiri remembers Dame Joan Sutherland
Posted on 20 December 2010
The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation was saddened in October to learn of the death of Dame Joan Sutherland. This tribute was written by Dame Kiri for the memorial service held at the Sydney Opera House.
“When I arrived in London in 1966 to study at the London Opera Centre, I knew almost nobody. A short time later, I was told to be at a master class conducted by Richard Bonynge - which made me somewhat nervous - and even more so when I discovered the great Joan Sutherland was to be there as well.
But the two people could not have been more friendly and encouraging. The advice they gave me at that very first meeting changed the direction of my career and gave me both inspiration and confidence.
Three years later, when I finished my course at the Opera Centre, I was offered the chance to be a supporting soloist at the Royal Festival Hall, and for the first time I stood on stage with Dame Joan for a concert performance of ‘Alcina’ - which for a young recent student was an awe-inspiring experience. But that great lady was totally supportive- and remained so for all four decades that I came to know her.
There can be no doubt that hers was a unique voice - the greatest of its time. But her audiences didn’t necessarily know the great lady behind that voice. She was friendly, approachable, honest, generous with her time and supportive to younger colleagues. Joan’s focus was only on presenting the finest quality of music, and her wonderful off-stage personality was a bonus.
As a singer she had no rivals. When she sang, it was the sound of heaven. As a person, she brought pleasure just by being in the room.
It will be a very long time before we hear such a voice again.
And as well as that we are also saying goodbye to a marvellous woman.
(pic - Kiri Te Kanawa, Joan Sutherland and Angela Lansbury, recording “The Beggars Opera.”)