We are delighted to publicly release the video recording of Dame Joan Sutherland’s 70th Birthday Gala at Australia House, London 1996 to celebrate her birthday today.
The event was a joint production of the Australian Music Foundation, then celebrating its 21st year, and the 4-year-old Tait Memorial Trust. We hope you enjoy watching this magical moment from 21 years ago.
The gala event was creatively directed by Jan Black. Jan has worked closely with us to bring this archive recording in memory of Dame Joan Sutherland to you.
It was a great opportunity to bring together Dame Joan and Maestro Bonynge’s love of the Operetta repertoire with all the extraordinary Australian generation of singers who were living in London at that time, in a beautiful Viennese Christmas Gala concert and dinner.
It was a challenging trying to co-ordinate everyone as well as Dame Joan and Richard, to all be in London on that night as everyone had very busy international careers. We turned the fabulous exhibition hall at Australia House on its side and used the marble columns as a proscenium. Dickie Lowe’s exquisite stage design which featured commedia dell’arte masks was the perfect complement to the musical performances. It all worked amazingly well and thanks to all the hard work of Jan and the rest of the Committee, the evening was a great financial and artistic success and Dame Joan looked so happy. Also a wonderful tribute to the beautiful late Deborah Riedel.
Entitled, ‘A Viennese Christmas Gala’ the concert was conducted by Richard Bonynge with the Britten Sinfonia, and featured Australian artists, Yvonne Kenny, Deborah Riedel, Jeffrey Black, Julian Gavin, Anne-Maree McDonald, Glenn Winslade, Paul Ferris, Christina Wilson, Liane Keegan & Joanna Cole who stepped in for an indisposed Amanda Thane. It was a fabulous night that we will never forget.
The events principal sponsors were Mercury Asset Management, Hartley Poynton Ltd, Qantas, R.T.Z plc & The Lynn Foundation. The generosity of all of the donors was extraordinary. You can find their names in the credits of the concert video.
Special mention must be made of HE The Hon. Neal Blewett AC who graciously allowed us to use the then recently refurbished Australia House. It was a great night to be an Australian.
Happy Birthday Dame Joan from us all at the Tait Trust.
The Tait Memorial Trust are thrilled to announce the launch of a new recording by Tait Awardee, Elena Xanthoudakis, and the great Australian master of Bel Canto, Richard Bonynge. Released by Signum Records the CD will be officially launched in March 2014 generously supported by the Borletti Buitoni Trust. Please watch the attached video
2008 Tait Prize winner, Elena Xanthoudakis was nominated for a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2011 and is a ‘Borletti-Buitoni Trust artist’. The BBT and Signum Records have come together to present Elena in a solo recital disc of ‘Bel Canto’ arias called ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Maestro Richard Bonynge. Jewels of the Bel Canto’ is for release April 1st 2014 and also features special guest artist, Australian Mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby, as Alisa in Lucia.
The process of making this CD involved Elena coaching with Maestro Bonynge in his home in Switzerland which were also supported by the Tait Memorial Trust.
Excerpts from Semiramide, Faust, La Traviata, La Sonnambula. Harwood, Sinclair, Elms; Pavarotti, J. Alexander, Opthof, Rouleau, Cross, others. Sutherland-Williamson Grand Opera Company Orchestra and Chorus, Bonynge/Weibel. Desirée Records CD 2965 (Norbeck, Peters & Ford, dist., 802-868-9300)
On July 17, 1951, Joan Sutherland left Sydney, Australia, with a purse full of prize money and the dream of singing at Covent Garden. Fourteen years later, she returned, the centerpiece of an old-fashioned, rigorous tour presented by J. C. Williamson Ltd. and organized by Sir Frank Tait, who had arranged legendary Nellie Melba tours for the same company in 1911, 1924 and 1928. In the space of fourteen weeks, Sutherland sang forty-three performances in four Australian cities — twelve Violettas, eleven Lucias, eight Semiramides, six Sonnambula Aminas, and six Faust Marguerites.
The arduous task of artistic director was given to Richard Bonynge, who cast the other principals, oversaw everything and, of course, conducted. After some rather spiky moments upon arrival, when the local press attempted to create controversy about Sutherland’s lengthy absence from her homeland, the tour was a phenomenal success, creating an interest in opera that ultimately resulted in the establishment of several resident companies. Sutherland was in spectacular form for the tour, establishing herself as a national heroine through the glory of her singing. Conductor and Sutherland-chronicler Brian Castles-Onion has painstakingly assembled tapes, chosen excerpts from various “pirate” sources and released this two-CD set with the blessing of the diva.
Although sound quality is variable (only the Sonnambula excerpts are in really poor sound, however), the vocalism is of such prodigious quality that these documents are a must for Sutherland fans and for students of singing. Reservations held by some about the lack of clarity in the soprano’s diction, her sometimes-muddy middle register, her “cool” temperament, will surely be diminished — if not obliterated — by evidence to the contrary on these discs. And her trademark assets — supreme agility, exquisite high E-flats and that amazing trill, are represented in abundance. Here you’ll find Sutherland at her peak. Castles-Onion has omitted selections from Lucia altogether, feeling that the role is well represented elsewhere. He has chosen not to include “Bel raggio” in the Semiramide group for the same reason. But what is included constitutes a feast of virtuoso singing that confirms memories of the soprano one sometimes doubts as too good to be true.
Both Semiramide-Arsace duets are here, the first with the impressive Australian mezzo Lauris Elms, the second with the vocally fearless Monica Sinclair. Sutherland is an imperious, authoritative Semiramide in ensembles, melting vocally in the amorous moments, blending perfectly with both her duet partners. The florid Rossini singing is the kind that makes you press the “repeat” button repeatedly. Even more fascinating for its rarity is Sutherland’s “live” Marguerite, beautifully partnered by John Alexander, a fine Met Faust at that time. The jewel song is peerless, capped by a long trill and even longer B-natural, all in one breath. The love duet and final prison scene and trio are impassioned and beautifully phrased, and the French language brings Sutherland’s voice forward to a lighter, more youthful place, befitting the character. Richard Cross is the excellent Méphistophélès.
In some Traviata selections, we encounter the great “find” of the tour, the young Luciano Pavarotti, who also partnered the diva in La Sonnambula. The Traviata excerpts, which include all the Violetta-Alfredo duets (including the denunciation at Flora’s party, with Alexander as Alfredo), Violetta’s arias, the great duet with Germont and the finale of the opera, are miked closely, to thrilling effect. The textures of Pavarotti’s youthful instrument and Sutherland’s in its prime provide ample goose bumps, and Cornelius Opthof is a superb elder Germont. Violetta was Sutherland’s favorite role, and as it was not always her most successful, she worked extra hard to be convincing in it. In Australia, she succeeded. Finally, La Sonnambula is represented by two excerpts: the gorgeous “D’un pensiero … non è questa, ingrato core” ensemble of Act II, and Amina’s final cabaletta, “Ah, non giunge.” Some may argue with Sutherland and Bonynge’s breakneck speed, but it expresses perfectly both Amina’s joy in awakening to love and Sutherland’s sheer joy in singing. The inclusion of this piece, always a heart-stopping Sutherland moment in the theater, is most welcome, despite the poor sound quality. The discs conclude with a short curtain speech in Melbourne by the overwhelmed prima donna. Bonynge’s conducting is stylish and spirited; he seems to be, along with everyone involved, swept away by the occasion. The Faust selections are also handled very well, by alternate conductor William Weibel.
IRA SIFF, Opera News. April 2003
To buy this recording and other rare discs of Dame Joan please click here
A recording of Dame Joan Sutherland, live in Australia 1965 (Vol. 2) Desiree Records is available via this link
Volume 1 sold out (let’s hope they press some more CDs). These recordings have particular significance for the Trust as Isla Baring’s father, Sir Frank Tait, produced this tour as part of the JC Williamson/ Sutherland Opera Company. It was Sir Frank’s ambition to present Dame Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Opera Company was formed in 1963. Richard Bonynge as Artistic Director engaged a team of world renowned principals and internationally successful Australian artists. One of the principals was Luciano Pavarotti, a young tenor from Modena. The chorus was all Australian. There was no government subsidy and the fate of Williamson’s future rested on the success of the venture.
Sir Frank lived to see his ambition fulfilled. The triumphant Melbourne opening heralded the return of Dame Joan to her homeland. It was a season never to be forgotten. In Richard Bonynge’s words: “Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know.”
Sir Frank died at the age of 81 after the Melbourne season finished and while the company were in Adelaide. It was the end of an era in the history of Australian theatre.
Following the enormous response to the initial Joan Sutherland Live In Australia 1965 (unfortunately no longer available), Desiree Records brings us a sequel which includes Sutherland performing the entire role of Lucia di Lammermoor, plus other rare and unknown recordings including alternate casts.
NOTE: These historical recordings derive mainly from old reel-to-reel quarter-inch tape, recorded with, sometimes, primitive methods. Studio efforts have been made to keep any unnecessary surface noise to a minimum without harming the clarity of sound reproduction.
Also available from Desiree Records are these two collections of Robert Allman and Nance Grant.
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti):
– Ancor non giunse!
– Regnava nel silenzio
– Quando, rapito in estasi
– Egli s’avanza…La vicina soglia
– Sulla tomba che rinserra
– Qui di sposa eterna fede
– Verranno a te sull’aure
– Il pallor funesto, orrendo
– Soffriva nel pianto
– Se tradirmi tu potrai
– Ebben? Di tua speranza
– Ah! Cedi, cedi, o più sciagure
– Al ben de’ tuoi qual vittima
– Dov’ è Lucia?
– Piange la madre estinta…
– Chi mi frena in tal momento?
– T’allontana, sciagurato
– Il dolce suono
– Ardon gli incensi
– S’avanza Enrico!
– Spargi d’amoro pianto.
Joan Sutherland (Lucia), John Alexander (Edgardo), Cornelis Opthof (Enrico), Clifford Grant (Raimondo), Dorothy Cole (Alisa), Sergei Baigildin (Arturo) – Richard Bonynge – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, July 10th 1965.
– Bel raggio lusinghier
– Se la vita ancor t’è cara
– Ebben, a te: ferisci.
Joan Sutherland (Semiramide), Spiro Malas (Azzur), Lauris Elms (Arsace) – August 1965 exact date unknown.
La Traviata (Verdi):
– Libiamo ne’ lieti calici
– Che è ciò?
– Un di felice.
Joan Sutherland (Violetta), Alberto Remedios (Alfredo) Andrè Montal (Gastone) – exact date unknown.
– Seigneur, daignez permettre à votre humble servante.
Joan Sutherland (Marguerite), Richard Cross (Méphistophélès) – cond. William Weibel – August 10th 1965.
La Sonnambula (Bellini):
– Care compagne….Come per me sereno
– Sovra il sen la man mi posa
– Prendi: l’anel ti dono.
Joan Sutherland (Amina), Luciano Pavarotti (Elvino) – Richard Bonynge – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney – October 9th 1965. Encore: Home Sweet Home. Richard Bonynge (Pianoforte), Closing Night – Melbourne.
Bonus Tracks: The Alternate Sopranos
Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti):
– Sulla tomba che rinserra
– Qui di sposa eterna fede
– Verranno a te sull’aure.
Elizabeth Harwood (Lucia), Luciano Pavarotti (Edgardo). Faust (Gounod):
– Alerte, ou vous ètes perdus!
Doris Yarick (Marguerite), Alberto Remedios (Faust), Joseph Rouleau (Méphistophélès)
For the past 36 year’s, the aim of this non-profit Australian organisation has been to raise money to help assist our most talented young opera singers fulfil their given potential. With the development of the Foundation in 2010 this has given us greater exposure and opportunities to expand on the activities the Society has presented since its inception in 1978. To date, we have awarded over $300,000 worth of scholarships and study grants and hope to further develop our involvement with these young singers by presenting masterclasses, workshops and a mentoring programme.
From the home page of the JS & RB Foundation website
The Trust looks forward to meeting the 2013 Tait Memorial Trust Prize winner, soprano Marlena Devoe from New Zealand who will be offered a prestigious London concert platform as part of her prize from the Bel Canto Awards . Dame Joan Sutherland was one of our founding patrons and loyal supporters due to her long association with Sir Frank Tait ( Isla Baring’s father) the Tait family and J C Williamson’s. The Sutherland-Williamson tour of Australia in 1965 is legendary and was a fitting epitaph to the life of Sir Frank and the enterprise of the Tait brothers.
We wish the Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation well and salute the work they are doing in supporting emerging operatic talent in Australia.
Savage Club, 12 Bank Place, Melbourne $55 per person including drinks & canapés
Bookings: http:// www.trybooking.com/DIDG
The Tait Performing Arts Association would like to thank the Savage Club and Jayson Gillham for their support for this evening’s fund raising concert.
Tait Performing Arts Association Inc. http://www.tait.org.au
Chairman Isla Baring OAM Founding Patrons Dame Joan Sutherland AC OM DBE,JohnMcCallumGoogie Withers AO CBE, AO CBE, Viola, Lady Tait AM Patrons Dr. John Amis, Richard Bonynge AO CBE, Barry Humphries AO CBE, Piers Lane, Roger Woodward AC CBE
Since relocating to London, young soprano Phoebe-Celeste Humphreys (22) has gone from strength to strength. Phoebe recently completed a Master of Music at The Guildhall School Of Music and Drama, London under scholarship and received a distinction in her final recital. In 2013/14 Phoebe will undergo an additional year of study at The Guildhall to complete a Masters in Performance under the tutelage of Marilyn Rees.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Phoebe has been on the classical singing scene for many years having won numerous Australian competitions and prizes, including:
Winner of Operatic Aria Open Final (Woolongong 2012)
Winner of Operatic Aria (McDonalds Performing Arts Challenge 2012),
French & German Award (McDonalds Performing Arts Challenge 2012)
Winner of the prestigious Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonygne Scholarship in 2009, selected by Maestro Bonynge.
Fourth prize in the National Aria Final (Australian National 2011)
In 2012, during her time at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Phoebe’s roles have included: Mimi La Boheme, Elvira L’italiana in Algeri, Polisenna Radamisto as well as Chorus Le Portrait de Manon. Externally, her roles this year include Lauretta Gianni Schicchi. Phoebe was recently invited to take part in the Young Artist program with Des Netherlandes Opera working on the role of Eve in Stockhaussen’s Montag aus Licht.
Phoebe has enjoyed a fruitful summer that included travelling to North Yorkshire with Ryedale Festival Opera covering the role of Pamina The Magic Flute followed by travelling to Wales to perform the role of Miss Wordsworth Albert Herring with Mid Wales Opera Young Artist Program.
Phoebe has also had the opportunity to sing at a number of concerts throughout the year, one highlight was to sing as soprano soloist for the LSO Song day performing Brahm’s Ein deutsches Requiem.
For the upcoming academic year her aim is to focus on performing a number of recitals within London, including one focussing on the works of Australian Art Song composers, to spread the intelligence and beauty of Australian classical compositions, as well as being actively involved in all performance opportunities offered at college as well as taking part in a number of external engagements.
With the ongoing support of The Tait Memorial Trust Phoebe has been able to experience her new life as a London based singer to the fullest and looks forward to what the next year has to bring.