A young successor to Dame Joan takes on the soprano role La Stupenda sang nine times.

She’s the young Australian soprano who sang in Dame Joan Sutherland’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey last year. By all accounts, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as 28-year-old Valda Wilson performed Fauré’s Pie Jesuand the Alleluiafrom Mozart’s Exsultate jubilateto an audience of more than 2,000 gathered to pay their respects.  

Now, again at the invitation of Dame Joan’s widower, maestro Richard Bonynge, Dresden-based Wilson returns to Sydney to sing in Handel’s Rodelinda —the title role that Sutherland herself took on nine times.

“I first heard Valda in a concert in London and I was very, very taken with her,” recalls the conductor. “Then they wanted someone to sing in Westminster Abbey and they asked me what I thought about it, and I said it’s a young voice, she’s Australian, she’s ultra-promising. She was so controlled and so lovely on the day. Everybody was really quite bowled over with her.”

Wilson says she’s looking forward to singing the opera in concert this week for its first Australian performance. “This role is an absolute gift! Elegant, noble, exciting music, a...