La Scala hails 'queen of bel canto' Sutherland

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The La Scala opera house in Milan paid tribute on Monday to legendary Australian opera singer Joan Sutherland, saying she had imbued Italian "bel canto" opera with a new force in the early 1960s.

The soprano, who died at her home in Switzerland at the age of 83, performed operas by Donizetti, Rossini and Mozart at La Scala between 1961 and 1966.

La Scala said in a statement that she had been the "queen of bel canto" -- the main vocal style used in opera in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

"This is how La Scala remembers Joan Sutherland: not just a master virtuoso, but an obligatory example for all those who have sung Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti after her," La Scala said.

"Her voice... and her ability to interpret gave Italian bel canto the impulse of a re-discovery of forgotten or underestimated titles and above all the force of a new stylistic consciuosness," it added.

After Sutherland's debut in Australia in the late 1940s, her career started to take off on stages in Europe over the following decade.

By the 1960s critics were calling her "La Stupenda" and she was credited with reviving Italian bel canto, following in the footsteps of Maria Callas.

Sutherland retired from the opera stage about 20 years ago.

© 2010 AFP

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