Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani as Lucia in the London premiere in 1838
Sutherland in 1975
Disegno per copertina di libretto, drawing for Lucia di Lammermoor (1954).
Sutherland in 1962
Lammermuir Hills, Scotland
Joan Sutherland in 1990
Set design for act 3, scene 3 by Francesco Bagnara, circa 1844 (Civica Raccolta Stampe Bertarelli Milan)
A caricature of the "Lucia Sextet", circa 1900 (Civica Raccolta Stampe Bertarelli Milan)

After World War II, a number of sopranos were instrumental in giving new life to the opera, including Maria Callas (with performances from 1954 at La Scala and Berlin in 1955 under Herbert von Karajan) and Dame Joan Sutherland (with 1959 and 1960 performances at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden).

- Lucia di Lammermoor

In 1959, Sutherland was invited to sing Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in a production conducted by Tullio Serafin and staged by Franco Zeffirelli.

- Joan Sutherland
Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani as Lucia in the London premiere in 1838

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Callas in 1958

Maria Callas

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American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.

American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.

Callas in 1958
The apartment house in Athens where Callas lived from 1937 to 1945
The Villa in Sirmione where Callas lived with Giovanni Battista Meneghini between 1950 and 1959
Callas's range in performance (highest and lowest notes both shown in red): from F-sharp below the Middle C (green) to E-natural above the High C (blue)
Callas acknowledges applause in 1959 at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam
Callas's rival, Renata Tebaldi, 1961
Tito Gobbi, 1970
Callas during her final tour in Amsterdam in 1973
Aristotle Onassis, who had an affair with Callas before he married Jackie Kennedy
The last residence of Maria Callas, in Paris
Portrait of Callas (2004), by Oleg Karuvits
Maria Callas with her husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini in 1957
Callas getting ready with the help of Luchino Visconti in Milan, 1957
Maria Callas as Giulia in the Opera "La Vestale", by Gaspare Spontini, 1954
Churchill with Maria Callas on Onassis' yacht in the late 50s

This initial foray into the bel canto repertoire changed the course of Callas's career and set her on a path leading to Lucia di Lammermoor, La traviata, Armida, La sonnambula, Il pirata, Il turco in Italia, Medea, and Anna Bolena, and reawakened interest in the long-neglected operas of Cherubini, Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini.

In 1952, she made her London debut at the Royal Opera House in Norma with veteran mezzo-soprano Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa, a performance which survives on record and also features the young Joan Sutherland in the small role of Clotilde.

Bel canto–era composer Gioachino Rossini

Bel canto

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Term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.

Term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.

Bel canto–era composer Gioachino Rossini
Hand-written note by contralto Marietta Alboni about the decay of bel canto in the late 19th century. The French text reads: "The art of singing is going, and it will only revert with the sole real music of the future: that of Rossini. Paris, 8 February 1881." (signature)
Mathilde Marchesi (1821–1913), a leading Paris-based teacher of bel canto sopranos

That situation changed significantly after World War II with the advent of a group of enterprising orchestral conductors and the emergence of a fresh generation of singers such as Montserrat Caballé, Maria Callas, Leyla Gencer, Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne, who had acquired bel canto techniques.

Today, some of the world's most frequently performed operas, such as Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, are from the bel canto era.

Tullio Serafin

Tullio Serafin

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Italian conductor and former Musical Director at La Scala.

Italian conductor and former Musical Director at La Scala.

Tullio Serafin
Tullio Serafin plaque (Rottanova, Cavarzere)

During his long career he helped further the careers of many important singers, including Rosa Ponselle, Magda Olivero, Joan Sutherland, Renata Tebaldi, and most notably Maria Callas, with whom he collaborated on many recordings.

Lucia di Lammermoor (Callas, di Stefano, Gobbi, Arié; 1953) EMI

Pavarotti upon receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, 2001

Luciano Pavarotti

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Italian operatic tenor who during the late part of his career crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most acclaimed and loved tenors of all time.

Italian operatic tenor who during the late part of his career crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most acclaimed and loved tenors of all time.

Pavarotti upon receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, 2001
Luciano Pavarotti in 1972
With Joan Sutherland in I puritani (1976)
From left: journalist Vincenzo Mollica, Pavarotti, Lucio Dalla and Zucchero on the first edition of Pavarotti & Friends (1992)
Elton John and Pavarotti in Modena, 1996
Luciano Pavarotti performing on 15 June 2002 at a concert in the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille
Pavarotti and family, N.Y.C., 1979–1983. Clockwise from top: Luciano Pavarotti, daughters Cristina and Lorenza Pavarotti, wife Adua Veroni, daughter Giuliana Pavarotti.
Pavarotti performing at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony
Statue of Pavarotti in Eilat IMAX
Grave of Luciano Pavarotti and his family in Montale Rangone
Pavarotti embraces Karen Kondazian on the set of Yes, Giorgio
Handprint of Luciano Pavarotti in front of the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

An early coup involved his connection with Joan Sutherland (and her conductor husband, Richard Bonynge), who in 1963 was seeking a tenor taller than herself to take along on her 1965 tour to Australia.

However, before the summer 1965 Australia tour Pavarotti sang with Joan Sutherland when he made his American début with the Greater Miami Opera in February 1965, singing in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in Miami.

Tenor Colin Lee, soprano Pretty Yende, Bonynge, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov and baritone George Stevens at a concert performance of Lucia di Lammermoor in Cape Town in April 2013

Richard Bonynge

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Australian conductor and pianist.

Australian conductor and pianist.

Tenor Colin Lee, soprano Pretty Yende, Bonynge, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov and baritone George Stevens at a concert performance of Lucia di Lammermoor in Cape Town in April 2013

He is the widower of Australian dramatic coloratura soprano Dame Joan Sutherland.

Commencing in 2007, he has conducted a series of performances in a few opera houses around the U.S. (Florida Grand Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre), and now is mostly involved with the Opera Australia company (Lucia di Lammermoor in August 2008, and in 2006 for Opera Queensland; I Capuleti e i Montecchi in Melbourne and Sydney in middle of 2009).