Monday, April 5, 2010

Women with Passion - Joan Sutherland & my mother

Dame Joan Sutherland (Maria Stuarda) with my mother Tine van Grootel (Anna)

Just came back from a wonderful weekend with my family. My parents live in a historic house in the South of Holland near Maastricht. It is filled with things they love and cherish. Everytime I visit my childhood memories revive big time. On the piano there is this black&white photograph by Jaap Pieper. I was about 4 years old when my mother started to study at the conservatory to become an opera singer. Single mum, 3 small kids, chasing her dream on just a scholarship. She was incredably talented but in "her" days opera wasn't particulary popular in The Netherlands.
In order to attract audience, the Dutch Opera Foundation would often engage opera stars from abroad for the leading roles. For the production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda they engaged Australian born Joan Sutherland to perform the role of Maria. My mother was casted for one of the other main characters, Anna. She loved every single minute of her work with this beautiful star especiallly because she is so passsionate, down to earth, hardworking with a warm personality. After the production our family was invited to her house near Montreux (Switzerland). It was an amazing place,  I lost count of the amount of rooms when she gave us the house tour, but she made us feel very welcome.


  1. What a lovely story about your mother Mariska...she sounds like a wonderful woman. And of course I am very pleased to hear you speak so nicely of an Australian...really nice to know she wasn't affected by her fame but remained down to earth.

  2. Oh, that is so neat! I really love hearing people's personal stories, I'm so glad you shared yours (and how fabulous that she still has the photograph to memorialize the moment!).



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