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Vocally, Joan Sutherland was at her freshest when she recorded The Art of the Prima Donna in 1960, just a year after her Covent Garden triumph Lucia di Lammermoor had launched her as an international star. This set was conceived in homage to earlier prima donnas, but inevitably it also represents Sutherland herself setting down her marker to be placed amongst their august company – and she does not fail the challenge. Her brilliance in vocal pyrotechnics amazes, and is here matched by the fullness of a fleshy tone rarely heard in such offerings. The repertoire consists of showpieces by Bellini, Gounod, Thomas, Verdi, Mozart, Arne and Handel, all associated with famous singers of previous generations; and Sutherland’s position amongst the company of glittering names is fully vindicated. The Royal Opera House Orchestra is capably conducted by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. It’s one of the essential Sutherland albums, topped off here by a valuable interview with Jon Tolansky that includes further examples of the diva’s immaculate art.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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