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Joan Sutherland: The Reluctant Prima Donna (2006)

Documentary charting the rise of Opera Diva Joan Sutherland.




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Credited cast:
Richard Bonynge ... Himself
... Himself
Alan Sievewright ... Himself
Joan Sutherland ... Herself
... Himself


Having sung unnoticed at Covent Garden for seven years, Joan Sutherland's role of Lucia Di Lammermoor in Franco Zeffirelli's production saw her become an overnight sensation. The BBC broke its schedules to broadcast her performance and the Italians dubbed her 'La Stupenda'. After Callas, hers was the greatest operatic career of the late twentieth century . Written by Steve Cole

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Release Date:

1 December 2006 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

This documentary on La Stupenda is simply stupendous!
21 August 2011 | by See all my reviews

I love opera and have done for so many years. I love the late Joan Sutherland, she was one of the first voices I was introduced to and she has been one of my favourites since. Not just for her beautiful voice and her huge, effortless top notes but also for her gracious mannerisms.

This documentary is just stupendous and so informative, it was lovely to see some familiar faces and I found it very interesting, for instance I didn't know people felt that way about Bel Canto before Sutherland arrived on the scene.

The whole programme is beautifully shot, and the music featured(including Lucia Di Lammermoor, I Puritani and Norma) is magnificent. Joan Sutherland:The Reluctant Prima Donna also comes across as honest in how it is written, I found it very touching about how her colleagues felt about her, what Placido Domingo said especially really struck a chord with me.

Sutherland herself appears and comes across as very thoughtful and gracious. Luciano Pavarotti, June Anderson and Marilyn Horne turn up too and they are very complimentary and charming, while Sherrill Milnes like everyone else is just a delight to see. I not only loved his frank and funny summing up of the Lucia plot and how it was like being opposite Sutherland doing I Puritani, but his final words on her is one of the nicest things you can say about anybody.

The most insightful commentaries come from Richard Bonynge and Franco Zeffirelli. Just hearing how Sutherland and Bonynge worked together and how Zeffirelli was introduced to her and how he worked to meet her needs are just one of the many interesting things about this documentary.

In conclusion, simply stupendous. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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