Joan Sutherland (soprano); Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli (1960) Decca 478 3071
This ambitious set of 16 arias associated with past coloratura legends came out in 1960 at the beginning of Sutherland’s career as an international recording star. Her incomparable technique, stylistic virtuosity and full-bodied tone were captured at their peak, without any trace of subsequent mannerisms.
Although Maria Callas may have started the bel canto revival, here and in subsequent recordings, Sutherland laid almost the entire history of vocal music before our delighted ears.
Her dazzling presentation of ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ from Handel’s Samson alone played a huge role in demonstrating the artistic and commercial viability of reviving vocal rarities from the past, immeasurably enriching the recorded repertory.