Monday, July 2, 2012

Exploring Artists: June Anderson

Welcome back, dear readers.  I must apologize for my recent absence, but a minor auto accident back in February has made sitting at a computer for extended periods of time a rather uncomfortable experience.  I am doing much better now, however, and I hope to continue to bring you lots of exciting information from the world of opera.  So today, I will continue our Exploring Artists series with one of the ladies from my childhood. 
As a teenager, and throughout much of my 20s, June Anderson was my favorite soprano.  To my ears, her voice was always a thing of beauty.  Yet recently I've found, more often than not, that when I mention her name, people look at me and say, "Who?"  I couldn't understand it, but then I realized that it has, indeed, been quite a bit of time since I heard her name mentioned by anyone else.  So for those of you  who are unfamiliar with her work, (and for everyone else, too,) here is a bit about June Anderson.
Ms. Anderson was born in Boston in 1952.  She began studying music as a child, and at age 17, she became the youngest artist to be named a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.  Her career, however, was not launched at that point, and she did not make her debut at the Met until 1989, when she sang the role of Gilda in Rigoletto.  Rather, she entered Yale University, where she graduated with a degree in French.  At that point, she embarked on her journey to become a singer, selecting law school as her fall-back in case she didn't make it.
Needless to say, Ms. Anderson never made it to law school.  She made her professional debut in 1978 with the New York City Opera, singing the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflote, a role she would later supply the vocals for in that great movie, Amadeus.
Ms. Anderson spent several years in Europe, where she specialized in bel canto roles.  During this time, she performed works by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, and was, in fact, the first non-Italian recipient of the Bellini d'Oro award.  Over the years, she met with great critical acclaim for her bel canto singing, and particularly for her portrayal of Lucia di Lammermoor.

During the 1990s, June Anderson began to expand her repertoire to include works of Verdi and Tchaikovsky, among others.  In 1995, she made her role debut as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello opposite Placido Domingo, in a performance I was extremely fortunate to attend.  I was in my final month of high school, and I skipped a week of classes to do the nineteen-hour-each-way drive to Los Angeles with my mother.  It was a stunning performance, and we had quite an adventure backstage afterwards, but that story is for another time.  Here is Ms. Anderson singing the Ave Maria from Otello in 2001.

Since then, I have seen her perform at least one other time, and possibly twice.  I was positive that I had seen her in Rigoletto, but now I'm not so sure.  At the same time, only today, I realized that I saw her role debut of Leonora in Il Trovatore in 1998.  She last performed with the Metropolitan Opera about ten years ago, and since then, she has added several new roles to her repertoire.  Last year, she took on the roles of Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmelites, and of Salome.  Her latest addition came earlier this year, as she performed the role of Pat Nixon in Théâtre du Châtelet's production of Nixon in China.  She continues to perform in concerts and recitals across Europe, and has even participated in a musical cruise of the Mediterranean.
I will leave you now with a 1991 performance of Caro Nome.  I hope to see you all back here very soon.  Ciao for now!

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