Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Prince of Wales pays tribute to Dame Joan Sutherland

The Prince of Wales was among 2,000 guests filling Westminster Abbey today, to pay tribute to opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland during a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate her life and work.

"La Stupenda", as Dame Joan became known, was one of the towering figures of 20th Century opera and a stalwart of the Royal Opera House.

She died at her home in Switzerland in October last year, aged 83.

The Australian-born soprano made her name in the UK after travelling to London to study at the Royal College of Music and then joining the Royal Opera House, of which The Prince has been Patron since 2009.

The service, incorporating music, prayers and readings, was conducted by the Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster.

He told the congregation: "La Stupenda, with the voice of the century, a voice like heaven, Joan Sutherland was a prima donna, a star for over 50 years."

Two recordings made by Dame Joan were played in the Abbey - Let The Bright Seraphim from Samson and Casta Diva from Norma.

Giving the address, Sir John Tooley, general director of the Royal Opera House from 1970-88, said: "The impact Joan made on her audiences, whether in the theatre, concert hall or on disc, was profound, never to be forgotten. And all of this from an engaging and supremely modest human being."

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