An important role Joan Sutherland brought to life for modern audiences was Massenet’s Esclarmonde. Here she sings an excerpt from this opera featured in Melba’s documentary profile: Massenet: His Life and Music. The video footage was taken on the train journey we undertook to interview Joan and Richard at their home near Montreux.

It is with deep sadness that Melba Recordings has learned of the death of the great soprano Joan Sutherland at the age of 83. The magnificence of her voice and the perfection of her technique put her in a class above any other singer on the opera stage. Joan was the voice of the century.

Her exalted artistic status was counterbalanced by her intense desire to maintain normality. After a blistering dress rehearsal where Sutherland raised the roof at the Sydney Opera House, in the queue at the cafeteria along with orchestra and stage hands, she made the comment “Not bad for an old Dame”.

With the most monumental career on the international stage she chose to come back to Australia and support the development of The Australian Opera.

With her husband Richard Bonynge, Joan did more than anyone else to bring opera into the consciousness of the Australian people firstly through the famous ’65 Sutherland Williamson tour and then her reign with the Australian Opera in the 70s and 80s. We were so lucky to have had a voice the like of no other performing on our stages.

Melba Recordings remain indebted to her. The label owes much to Joan’s support, faith and encouragement from our earliest days.

We send our heartfelt condolences and thoughts to Richard, and to their son Adam and his family.

Australia and the world have lost a great artist. And Melba has lost a loyal and much-loved friend.

Maria Vandamme
Managing Director Melba Recordings and CEO Melba Foundation

Melba Recordings Pty Ltd & Melba Foundation Ltd
PO Box 415, Elwood Victoria 3184 Australia
Phone: 613 9534 5004  Fax: 613 9593 8533  Email:

We respect your privacy. If you wish to be removed from our email list please email to with "Remove" in the subject line.