Across 138 CDs and three lavish box sets, Decca is proud to release the most comprehensive set of recordings celebrating the ‘voice of the century’, Joan Sutherland.

For three decades, Joan Sutherland reigned supreme in the bel canto repertoire – earning the title ‘La Stupenda’. Following the historic night at Covent Garden in 1959, when she made her debut in the title role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Decca signed the Australian soprano and her husband – pianist and conductor Richard Bonygne – giving the pair carte blanche to record what they liked.

The decision resulted in one of the most extraordinary treasuries of operatic recordings ever produced by a single headlining artist. The recordings were critically acclaimed and commercially wildly successful, selling ‘as fast as they could be pressed’ according to Decca’s famed producer John Culshaw. 

Throughout 2024 and into 2025, the eve of her centenary, Decca will release three box sets incorporating Sutherland’s entire discography with the company, also including recordings made for rival EMI. The recordings range from 1954 to 1988, from the days of early stereo to the digital era. They include complete operas, recital discs, rarities and surprises, and material being released digitally for the first time.  

The boxes are divided into Recitals and Oratorio (Box 1), The Operas, 1959-70 (Box 2) and The Operas, 1971-1988 (Box 3). Each box is generously annotated and lavishly illustrated. Perfect-bound booklets include insightful essays from Decca’s Raymond McGill, an introduction by Richard Bonynge and a wealth of illustrations including previously unpublished photographs from the Richard Bonynge archive. Also included is an audio documentary by Jon Tolansky. The artwork consists of original jacket designs.

These landmark releases will constitute the most comprehensive charting of Sutherland’s career ever to reach the market and will be presented in elegant boxes with 2-piece lift-off lids.

BOX 1 – RELEASED 19 JULY (pre-order 7 June)

·      Sutherland’s complete Recitals and Oratorio recordings for Decca, from 1959 Paris recital to Live from Lincoln Center (with Marilyn Horne and Luciano Pavarotti)

·      Four recitals from 1958, with Bonynge at the piano, released on Decca for the first time including French songs discovered some years ago at the end of the tapes for the French Opera Arias set

·       Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under both Ansermet and Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt

·       Messiah under both Boult and Bonynge

·       Verdi’s Requiem under Solti

·       All-Wagner disc

·       Sutherland’s first studio recording, from 1954: Bliss’s A Song of Welcome

BOX 2 

·       Complete opera recordings 1959-70

·       Sutherland as Donna Anna in Giulini’s 1959 Don Giovanni

·       Alcina recorded live with Fritz Wunderlich

·       Lucia di Lammermoor under Pritchard

·       Faust, Norma, Semiramide, Lakmé and Les Huguenots all under Bonynge

·       Rarities include highlights from Graun’s Montezuma and Bononcini’s Griselda

BOX 3 

 ·       Opera recordings 1971-88

·       Landmark taping of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (1971) in which Sutherland sngs all four dolls

·      Zubin Mehta’s 1971 Turandot in which Sutherland stars alongside Luciano Pavarotti and Montserrat Caballé

·      Verdi’s RigolettoLa TraviataIl Trovatore (including the ballet music sequence), Ernani and Masnadieri

·       Bellini’s I PuritaniLa Sonnambula and Norma

·       First worldwide release for Die Fledermaus captured live at the Sydney Opera House

“One of the greatest singers of the last century, possessed of a voice second to none: warm even, flexible, large and wide-ranging, always used to musical and dramatic ends. It was a thrilling and glorious sound.”

Sir John Tooley

“I can’t think of anyone I’ve heard live in my lifetime who combined the strength, agility and the ability to do these amazingly florid, almost super-human soprano turns.”

Tim Page

“Let me say straight away: she triumphs! … The range of this recital is extraordinary. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of it is the new sweetness and beauty of tone.”

Gramophone, 1960 (The Art of the Prima Donna)