A Gala Concert with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: A Gala Concert
PERFORMER: Elizabethan Sydney Orchestra/ Richard Bonynge
CATALOGUE NO: 100262

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As well as maintaining top-flight solo careers for decades, these two divas formed one of the most famous vocal partnerships of the 20th century, beginning in 1961 with a concert performance of Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda in New York.

It worked brilliantly, artistically and personally, and the two went on to appear together as (in Home’s phrase) ‘the druid duo’ in Norma, and as a nearly incestuous mother and son (!) in their other speciality, Rossini’s Semimmide.

Highlights from these two scores, as well as Lakme and The Tales of Hoffmann, make up the main duet fare in this 25th anniversary concert from the Sydney Opera House, while Sutherland and Home each throw in quite a few individual showstoppers of their own.

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If they’re both a shade past their prime in 1986, they’re still formidable performers, and there’s great presence and personality in everything they do, separately or together. Sutherland’s husband Richard Bonynge conducts enthusiastically, and throws in a few overtures (Don Pasquale, Zampaund Handel’s Radamisto) to allow the girls a bit of a breather. They have a whale of a time, and so does the audience.