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.
That the audience anticipated itself was clear when they broke into her first entrance, a practice frowned on at the house and destructive of illusion and mood. Actually the Australian has sung many times in U.S. concert and her London label disks have established the amazing richness of her voice, especially in the top range, which in “Lucia” included a smashing, full-throated high E. Her performance all the way, the trills and flawless production of rounded tones gave new pulsation to an opera which is frequently more hokum than art.