On this day in 1961 soprano Joan Sutherland made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Robert J. Landry in Variety:
The Metropolitan Opera season, which was almost cancelled, has produced the debut of a soprano, Joan Sutherland, of Australia, who is almost unimaginably good. Resultantly, the Sunday (26) night audience went nearly berserk with delight during and after the climaxing mad scene in “Lucia de Lammermoor.” Although explosions of enthusiasm are familiar enough, though never common, at the Met nothing comparable is recalled in recent times. There wasn’t applause but wild beatings of palms; not bravos but roars of exultant appreciation. There were 10 genuine, unforced, prolonged solo curtain calls. At the sixth the examples of a few who were standing became the complete audience.
Suffice that with this Australian’s arrival a box-office sensation, a queen among divas and opera history were all made simultaneously. It was simply not possible to find anything to quibble about. Even the creaky old libretto suddenly seemed exciting.
. . . .
No point in complicating the simple fact of a once-in-a-generation eruption of performing genius. Miss Sutherland, tall, completely the mistress of her role, and pretty good actress to boot, was that rara avis, a promised glory that exceeded hopes. She is the kind of talent that old-timers often refuse to believe any longer lives.
Birthday anniversaries of tenor Gerhard Unger (1916) and soprano Hildegard Hillebrecht (1927).