Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Wednesday, May 6, 1998

Release #203-98

Contact: Colleen Roche/Jack Deacy (212) 788-2958


Honors The Great Australian Soprano At City Hall Ceremony

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today honored the legendary Metropolitan Opera soprano Dame Joan Sutherland in a City Hall ceremony and declared May 6th "Dame Joan Sutherland Day" in New York City.

"Over the years, Dame Joan Sutherland's performances at the Metropolitan Opera have given New Yorkers opera fans some of their greatest moments," Mayor Giuliani said. "She is simply one of the great sopranos of the century and today is New York City's day to say thank you to this magnificent artist. There is nothing quite like this incomparable Dame. As a singer, an inspiration and guide to young artists, and friend, New York loves Dame Joan."

Joining the Mayor today were Cultural Affairs Commissioner Schuyler Chapin, conductor Richard Bonynge, Dame Sutherland's husband and artistic collaborator, and several friends of the artist.

Born in Sydney, Australia, Dame Sutherland studied at London's Royal College of Music, where she first met Richard Bonynge, who became her accompanist and coach. The soprano's rise to fame was swift and dynamic. She created a sensation in London's Covent Garden production of "Lucia DiLammermoor", a signature role in which she debuted at Milan's LaScala, where she was referred to as "La Stupenda."

Dame Sutherland made her New York City debut on November 26, 1961 at the old Metropolitan Opera House and continued to sing major roles at the Met until 1989, the year before her retirement from the opera stage. She was bestowed the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire, the feminine equivalent of knighthood. Her autobiography was published last year.

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