Franco Zeffirelli earlier today told ANSA and ADN-Kronos news agencies:
"Her death haunts me: I remember that Lucia in Covent Garden, 1959: Maestro Tullio Serafin personally hired me to direct that production and I admit when I first saw her I worried, I thought that we had a problem. I imagined Lucia as an otherworldy presence, a small woman. But Serafin said: 'never mind, just wait and listen to her voice'. She sang 'Sempre libera' and I found her astonishing. A miracle of virtuoso technique, precision, intonation, and breath control. We went together to Italy where the following year she sang Alcina in Venice and drove the audience crazy with joy -- that opera allowed her to show her talent... It was a triumph... She was a very nice woman and a cultured musician. Sutherland and Callas are without a doubt the greatest singers of the twentieth century. Sutherland the unique voice, Callas the voice and the temperament. Two marvelous forces to be reckoned with".
At first, he really didn't like her upon seeing her for the first time:
"Indeed, I was truly disappointed in her looks -- she was a grenadier in drag. Everything played against her: her imposing physique, her height, the Australia accent. The polar opposite of Maria, who was so refined. But what a voice! I called Maria Callas, and asked to come and see a rehearsal. Maria, like a true professional, came and after the rehearsal hugged me. She was very sweet to Sutherland as well, giving her good career advice. I was just lucky, because I found myself sandwiched between two great artists like a slice of ham! Sutherland taught me so much, the importance of the voice in opera. I am truly saddened. She will be part of opera's history, just like Pavarotti"
Soprano Daniela Dessì had the good fortune to receive advice from Sutherland herself and told ADN-Kronos agency:
"I asked her for advice and she told me: 'Think as if high notes didn't really exist -- if the voice is well balanced, the high notes will come naturally'. She was a very simple, modest woman, despite her greatness. Her advice was very precious for my career".