Happy Birthday, June Anderson!
June Anderson (December 30, 1952) is one of the greatest American coloratura sopranos of our time. She became the first non-Italian ever to win the Bellini d'Oro prize. Anderson has also received the Grammy Award for Best Classical Album, for her concert performance of Candide with composer Leonard Bernstein.
June Anderson was born in Boston, Massachusetts and began vocal studies at the age of 11. At age 17, she became the youngest finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions. She went on to earn her degree in French from Yale University, and then decided to pursue her singing career. Anderson gave herself a deadline of two years to become successful, otherwise she would enter law school. "No one wanted to know my name. I was down to my last $50. That's when I decided I was going to be a singer if it killed me!"
Anderson made her professional debut at the New York City Opera in 1978 as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Years later, she would also voice the Queen of the Night in the Oscar-winning film Amadeus. In 1981, she sang the three lead soprano roles in Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach, the first soprano to do so at New York City Opera since Beverly Sills in 1973.
Lucia di Lammermoor
In the early 1980s, June began a European career, debuting in Rome in Rossini's Semiramide. The next year, she debuted in Florence and Geneva in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, which became one of her best-known parts. In Europe, Anderson performed in several operas by legendary Italian composers including Bellini, Rossini, and Donizetti, which led to her winning the Bellini d'Oro. Her key performances include Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambula, Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment, and Desdemona in Rossini's Otello.
La fille du régiment with Pavarotti, 1995
In 1989, Anderson finally made her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera as Gilda in Rigoletto, with Luciano Pavarotti. Of her performance, The New York TImes wrote "The Met audience does not often hear a trill as thrushlike and as precise as Miss Anderson's, nor a soprano who can soar as grandly over the ensemble in the quartet."
Anderson performed as Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein's Candide, in London on December 13, 1989, for which they later shared a Grammy Award. On Christmas of the same year, she performed in Berlin in a concert which was broadcast live to an estimated audience of 100 million people worldwide.
June has performed extensively since the beginning of her career, and continues to expand her repertoire. Since her first appearance as Norma in 1997, Anderson has been compared favorably to the great Maria Callas. The singer has been careful to ease her career gradually "into deeper water", stating, I wanted to put it off as long as possible. I kept saying, and it's been quoted so many times, I didn't want to do "Normina." I wanted to do Norma. And Leonora."
The Bassarids, 2006
In 2007, June performed Verdi's Requiem in Paris as well as Norma at various galas in Europe in honor of the death of Maria Callas. In 2008, she was elevated from "Officier" to "Commandeur" of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.
Since 2010, June has added the roles of Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmelites, and Salome at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie. In 2012, she has also debuted as Pat Nixon in John Adam's Nixon in China at the Théâtre du Châtelet.
Selected Works with June Anderson:
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- Birthday Date: Tuesday, 30 December 2014