The famous church has not been host to a memorial service for an Australian since Sir Robert Menzies was honoured there in 1978. Among those in attendance were Prince Charles and former Royal Opera House general director Sir John Tooley, who spoke fondly of the soprano’s early days on the stage.

Sutherland’s husband of 56 years Richard Bonynge also spoke, as did biographer Norma Major. The service featured music performed by the choir of the Abbey, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, soprano Valda Wilson and Dame Joan herself, courtesy of her famous recordings.

”One is terribly aware that this is such a great honour,” said Bonynge. “She would have been so proud.”

Dame Joan Sutherland died at the age of 83 in her Switzerland home in October last year.

Limelight‘s Sarah Noble attended the memorial. Read her report here.

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