Patricia Harewood

My husband is proud to claim that in the 1950s, when they were both employed at Covent Garden, he was paid a larger salary than Joan Sutherland was. Fresh from Sydney, she had joined the company in 1952, and was soon appearing in small roles, including Clotilde, opposite Maria Callas’s Norma. This was followed by several years of steady progress and major roles (Agathe, Antonia, Micaela), but no great public success. My husband watched Joan’s progress from the beginning of her time and realised, as did others, that here was a great singer in the making. Then, in February 1959, Sutherland, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, made her triumphant début as Lucia di Lammermoor, and everything changed dramatically, including her fees.

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It’s funny about Australia and me. For the first thirty years of my life, I longed to get out of it, and now I can never wait to come back! I have lived in England for forty-two years. I have a marvellous marriage, an English son, three English stepsons, fourteen English grandchildren, and a host of devoted English friends. I love England, the countryside and the changing seasons, from the film of green announcing spring to the glory of autumn and the magic of seeing the bones of the landscape through bare trees in winter. The sound of English birds thrills me. Were I banished, the recollection of the ‘chukka-chukka’ of pheasants (all right, I know they were originally Chinese!) going up to roost would reduce me to tears.

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