Educated to a high level in Connecticut, June Anderson commenced her vocal studies at the age of eleven. At seventeen she was the then youngest-ever finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions. Having graduated from Yale University with a degree in French, she decided upon a career in music and studied voice with Robert Leonard in New York. After a slow start she made her operatic début as the Queen of the Night/The Magic Flute with the New York City Opera in 1978. During her time with this company she appeared in a range of operas: from Giulio Cesare to The Golden Cockerel by way of Don Giovanni, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rigoletto and La traviata. Like her distinguished predecessor Beverley Sills, she sang all three soprano parts in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, in 1981. Anderson left the city opera in 1982 to appear in Europe, having been recommended to an Italian agent by baritone Sherrill Milnes. She made her European début at Rome in 1982 in Semiramide and went on to appear in bel canto rôles including Lucia/Lucia di Lammermoor (Florence, Geneva, 1983), Amina/La sonnambula (Venice, 1984), Marie/La fille du régiment (Parma, 1984), Isabelle/Robert le diable (Paris, 1985) and Desdemona/Otello (Rossini) (Venice, 1986). She made her débuts at La Scala, Milan and at Covent Garden in La sonnambula and Semiramide respectively in 1986, and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1989 in Rigoletto, singing opposite Luciano Pavarotti and giving a performance as Gilda of which the New York Times wrote: ‘She demonstrated in a Caro nome of exquisite taste, effortless fluidity and pinpoint precision that she is a master of the bel canto style.’
During the following decade Anderson expanded her repertoire to include Elena/La donna del lago (La Scala, 1982), Marie/Mazeppa (Opera Orchestra of New York, 1993), Desdemona/Otello (Verdi) (Los Angeles, 1995), Lucrezia/I due Foscari (Covent Garden, 1995), Rosalinde/Die Fledermaus (Metropolitan, 1995), Joan of Arc/Giovanna d’Arco (New York, Barcelona, Covent Garden, 1996) and Tatiana/Eugene Onegin (Tokyo, 1996). Towards the end of the decade she moved to heavier rôles, singing Norma in Chicago and Elvira/Ernani with the Opera Orchestra of New York, both in 1997, and Leonora/Il trovatore at the Metropolitan in 1998. She spoke of tackling these heavier parts with great clarity in an interview in Opera News in 1998: ‘I didn’t want to do “Normina.” I wanted to do Norma. And Leonora. I didn’t want to sound like a soubrette trying to do these things.’ The process of continuously extending her repertoire continued after 2000 with appearances in Anna Bolena (Pittsburgh, 2000), The Bassarids (Paris, 2005) and Il viaggio a Reims (Monte Carlo, 2005); and with two major Richard Strauss rôles, the Countess in Capriccio (Naples, 2002) and the title part in Daphne (Venice, 2005) of which Max Loppert wrote in Opera magazine: ‘The singing offered countless ravishments: crystalline timbre, clean-cut line-delineation, dead-on-target intonation, awesomely easy projection of one perilously exposed high phrase after another.’
In 2008 Anderson was made a commander of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. The possessor of a pure soprano voice of considerable power and accuracy, Anderson uses this with unfailing musicality and an ability to adapt effortlessly to the musical style of whichever composer she is performing. Her discography is large, and includes complete sound recordings, both formal and informal, as well as desirable video recordings.
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