When Joan Sutherland performed the role of Norma at the Vancouver Opera in 1963 this was the first opera I ever saw, heard and breathed. I was strikingly amazed and in awe to be in the presence of such a resplendent voice.

My opera going experience got off to a propitious start.

So inspired was I by her voice, (I had never heard anything like this in my young life), that I proceeded to collect every Bel Canto recording she made. (Purchased at Seymour Records in downtown Vancouver under the watchful and careful guidance and advice of David Y.H. Lui).

I saved up my allowance and bought “upper orchestra tickets” in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the VOA’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor, starring Joan Sutherland.

And to my delight and surprise, I got an invite to the dress rehearsal and watched everything from backstage. My “task” was to move her shoes/slippers from stage left, (once she was onstage), to stage right and wait for her exit to give her back her slippers at the end of the “Mad Scene”!!

From that moment forward OPERA became my passion, life’s work and I shall never, ever, forget meeting, hearing and admiring Dame Joan Sutherland, “La Stupenda”.

Joan Sutherland, you are a “Grande Dame”; a true trouper with your superb TV performances in “Who’s Afraid of Opera?” and your rendition of “Home Sweet Home” still rings in my ears and touches my soul.

Dame Joan, you are home, rest well and rest in peace.

PS: Dame Joan, Lotfi Mansouri was right – you danced up a storm while singing the Czardas in the Vancouver Opera production of the Merry Widow!

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