Australian opera legend Dame Joan Sutherland’s most iconic costumes heading to Melbourne

OA Dame Joan Sutherland CostumesOpera Australia and Arts Centre Melbourne have announced thirty of Dame Joan Sutherland’s most iconic costumes will be donated to the Australian Performing Arts Collection.

Speaking at the Opera Australia 2019 Melbourne season launch, CEO Rory Jeffes said “We are proud and thrilled to partner with Arts Centre Melbourne and donate the costumes that best represent Dame Joan’s illustrious career. These costumes are a treasured piece of Australian history and we are glad that ACM will ensure their continued preservation and share them with the public.”

Curated over a number of years, Opera Australia’s Dame Joan Sutherland collection spans three decades and comprises of dresses, wigs, headpieces and accessories all worn over the course of her celebrated career. The thirty costumes will include some of Dame Joan’s most recognisable roles such as Violetta in La Traviata, Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots and the title character in Lucrezia Borgia.

The collection will feature costumes made both in Australia and abroad by designers such Barbara Matera, Kristian Fredrickson, John Truscott and Michael Stennett. The first costumes will be on display as early as November this year with the remaining costumes expected to travel down to Melbourne in the coming months.

The Australian Performing Arts Collection is the nation’s largest collection of performing arts memorabilia and ephemera, charting the stories of the Australian stage. Many items from the 700,000 Collection will feature in the Australian Performing Arts Gallery to be housed in a new purpose-built Arts Centre Melbourne campus at 1 City Road, Southbank.

“We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at Opera Australia to continue to build the significance of the Australian Performing Arts Collection,” said Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer. “This donation will help to preserve Dame Joan’s legacy for future generations and to share the story of Opera Australia.”

For more information about the Australian Performing Arts Collection, visit: For more information about Opera Australia, visit: for details.

Image: Dame Joan Sutherland as (1) Elettra in Idomeneo, 1979 (2) Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, 1978 – photo by William Moseley; and  (3) Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots, 1981 – courtesy of Opera Australia