ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Joan Sutherland
WORKS: The Art of the Prima Donna: Arias from operas by Bellini, Gounod, Verdi,
PERFORMER: Joan Sutherland (sop); ROH Chorus & Orchestra/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
CATALOGUE NO: 452 298-2 ADDReissue
Sutherland recorded these arias in 1960. This is a good transfer to CD but, since the recordings were made in Kingsway Hall, tubes and traffic occasionally intrude. Nothing, however, can take away from the astounding freshness of sound and breathtaking agility of Sutherland’s coloratura on these discs. She had been singing at Covent Garden since 1952, but it was not until her performance in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in 1959 that she became an overnight sensation and Decca rushed to sign her up. The subtitle of this set does not just refer to Sutherland, it is also a tribute to the art of earlier prima donnas, with each aria annotated with the name of the famous soprano for whom it was written or with whom it became strongly associated. These include Patti, Lind, Tetrazzini and Galli-Curci.
As well as demonstrating Sutherland’s remarkable vocal range, the discs reflect a melting sensuality in the seamless, delicate phrases, from Handel, through Bellini to Verdi. This was an amazing voice. Sutherland had spectacular accuracy of pitch and remains probably the most skilful exponent of trills and effortless coloratura. Elise McDougall