Andrew's Opera was previously published at

24 November, 2010

Joan Sutherland Memorial Service, Sydney Opera House.

Joan Sutherland memorial concert. Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. 10.30am Tuesday 12 November 2010

This was a moving and appropriate tribute to our departed diva. The speeches were all genuine and heart-felt - from Julia Gillard, Adam Bonynge, Moffatt Oxenbould and Marie Bashir. The host was Adrian Collette of Opera Australia.

In the assembled chorus I recognised Ken Collins, Joan Carden, Anson Austin, Don Shanks, Bob Gard, Paul Ferris, Ros Illing, Henri Wilden, Jennifer McGregor, Amelia Farrugia and numerous familiar faces who may have been former chorus ladies and gents (the company has now largely relocated for the Melbourne season). Bob Allman, Malcolm Donnelly and Cheryl Barker were in the audience. I also noted Elizabeth Allen, long serving chorus member, now retired, who was an old school friend of Joan Sutherland. There would have been others who I have forgotten and numerous people who I did not spy with my little eye.

The service was broadcast on national television and radio. The sound quality of Bell song and Parigi o Cara were top notch but then something happened and the system seemed to be below par for the Mad Scene and Borgia finale. I thought it was a little odd that they chose Va Pensiero from Nabucco, an opera Sutherland (wisely) never sang in.

Unfortunately Maestro Richard Bonynge was unable to attend, having been conducting ballet in Cuba. His son Adam spoke eloquently on his father's behalf. Richard Bonynge was the most important person in Joan Sutherland’s life.

While there were no titles for the Concert Hall projections, I was pleased to see that the broadcast did include sub-titles for the clips of Sutherland’s singing. This is so very important for the novice … as well as some of us more seasoned folk I suspect.

Rest in peace, dear Joan.

Comments by Andrew Byrne ..