Recently I had the privilege of attending the memorial service at the Opera House for Australian national icon, Dame Joan Sutherland. It was a beautiful and fitting memorial service with the Opera Australia Orchestra playing and the Opera Australia chorus leading the singing interspersed with film of Dame Joan in some of her great opera roles singing Bell Song from Lakme to “Parigi, o cara “ from Verdi’s La traviata.
The stage was decorated with magnificent flower arrangements in green and white on each side and an unbroken row of roses, stocks, lilies amongst others , along the front. I was so impressed with the flowers that I waited at the end so that I could take some photos of this art form.
I have always envied people who can turn a basket of cut flowers from a garden into magnificent arrangements in the house, I would love to be able to do it. As I was taking a few close ups of the flowers when an elderly lady came up and started talking about Dame Joan. She told me that green and white was her favourite colour combination which is why green and white balloons festooned the Opera House on the night of her Farewell concert twenty years ago and hence the appropriate choice for the flowers.
She went on to say that after that concert in which Dame Joan sang, Home Sweet Home, as she left by car, the crowds started singing Home Sweet Home as a sign of the affection they had for her. The elderly lady, Annie said it reminded her of the story of the 28,000 who lined the streets of Milan on Verdi’s death and broke into spontaneous singing of his “Va, pensiero” as his coffin passed. Music and flowers combine to define beauty and evoke memory as so little else can.