Famous Australian Women - Opera Singers

Famous Australian women, Melba and Joan Sutherland are two amazing opera singers that enchanted audiences around the world.

They both had the gift of singing and both dedicated their lives to improving their natural abilities and moulding their voices to achieve fabulous performance.

Both divas graced the big stages of the world and their careers contributed to the reputation of Australian opera.

Famous Australian Women - Melba

Dame Nellie Melba was a pioneer of the Australian opera and a great artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An independent woman who lived in an era when women were meant to be housewives, Melba had a brilliant career, despite the opposition of her family.

Her actual name was Helen Porter Mitchell. Having been born in Melbourne, she honoured the city by taking the stage name of Melba.

She took singing lessons in Paris and captivated French audiences with her spectacular soprano voice.

The Royal Opera House in London, Covent Garden hosted most of her performances.

She toured Europe and sang for royal families including the Russian Tsar and the King of Sweden. She performed in US - at the Metropolitan, New Zealand and of course her native country, Australia.

Melba was present at the inauguration of Canberra as the capital of Australia in 1927, and sang at the opening ceremony of the Parliament House.

While normally performing at grand concerts at Covent Garden or Metropolitan, in front of aristocratic or royal audiences, Melba also visited country towns in Australia and sang in small theatre houses and in front of a rural public who crowded to hear her.

Today you can listen to her voice on CDs that captured some of her magnificent performances based on her gramophone recordings.

Famous Australian Women - Joan Sutherland

Dame Joan Sutherland has continued Melba's legacy to raise the standard of Australian opera to world class level.

She was born in 1926, the year when Melba had her farewell performance at Covent Harden. She was contemporary with the big names of the second half of the 20th century: Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballe, the younger Kiri Te Kanawa or Luciano Pavarotti.

She started to sing in her native Sydney in 1947, and four years later travelled to London to continue her studies.

Joan Sutherland's first appearance at Covent Garden was in the "Magic Flute" in 1952.

Her husband, Australian pianist Richard Bonynge helped shape her voice to the bel canto style. She also worked a lot to improve her stage presence to become a well rounded artist.

Joan Sutherland's 1959 interpretation of the "Lucia di Lammermoor" role, under the direction of Franco Zefirrelli, at Covent Garden was a huge leap forward in her career. From there, sky was the limit for the powerful voice of the Australian soprano.

She joined the elite world of opera celebrities and became a true diva.

Joan Sutherland performed at many opera institutions in the world: Paris, La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan in New York, La Fenice in Venice.

Someone used the Italian superlative "La Stupenda" to describe how the public and media perceived her. This is how Joan Sutherland was known to the world ever since.

Back in Australia in 1965, she introduced a young Pavarotti to the audiences Down Under.

During her amazing career she successfully performed complex roles that require difficult techniques, fast scales, high notes and an extremely flexible voice.

Joan Sutherland officially retired in 1990, singing at Sydney Opera House but then she participated to another performance at Covent Garden to mark the 1990 New Year's Eve.

She died at her home in Switzerland, aged 83.

Other famous Australian singers

References: www.wikipedia.org

Like This Page?

ask a question

Subscribe to
Starting in Sydney News


I keep this private