THE world lost one of its most powerful voices when Australian operatic supremo, Dame Joan Sutherland, died on this day in 2010.

Sutherland, born to Scottish parents in Sydney, began her famed career by imitating her mother - a mezzo-soprano who never considered a professional career.

She made her concert debut as Dido in Dido and Aeneas in 1947 and then her stage debut Eugene Goossens' Judith in 1951.

However, Sutherland made a breakthrough when she won the prestigious Sun Aria (now known as the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria) in 1949 and, from that, moved to London to study at the Opera School of the Royal College of Music.

In 1952, she made her first appearance in a leading role, singing as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House.

Sutherland then married Australian conductor and pianist Richard Bonynge and, on his prompting, she started to explore bel canto repertoire and, eventually, settled on a career singing dramatic coloratura soprano. The couple then welcomed their son Adam in 1956.

Sutherland's career was now on the rise, but after completing the famous Mad Scene in Lucia di Lammermor at the Royal Opera House in 1959, she had become a star.

In 1960, she recorded arguably the greatest opera album ever recorded - The Art of the Prima Donna - which claimed a Grammy in 1962.

During the next two decades, Sutherland packed out concert halls across the globe, conquered every role and took young talent under her wings - including a young Italian named Luciano Pavarotti.

Even when her voice started to wane and her vibrato loosed, her impeccable approach to her craft allowed her to undertake the most difficult roles.

However, all great thing must come to an end, and, at the age of 63, she bid farewell in her last full-length dramatic role as Marguerite de Valois at the Sydney Opera House in 1990.

Despite being in 'retirement', Sutherland made some public appearances, appeared in film and published her autobiography.

She was also awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and named Australian of the Year in 1961, Companions of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1975 and then, in 1979, elevated to Dame Commander.

Then, on 29 November 1991, the Queen bestowed the Order of Merit (OM).

However, Sutherland's body was beginning to fail and she broke both her legs in a garden accident at her home in Switzerland ion 2008.

And then, on October 10, 2010, the woman whose voice was described as being like "heaven", died from cardiopulmonary failure. She was 83.

"She wanted to go, she was happy to go, and in the end she died very, very peacefully," her family said.


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