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|Born||December 30, 1952|
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|Genres||Bel canto, Romantic, Opera|
|Occupation(s)||Opera singer (soprano)|
June Anderson (born December 30, 1952) is a Grammy Award-winning American dramatic coloratura soprano. Originally known for bel canto performances of Rossini, Donizetti, and Vincenzo Bellini, she was the first non-Italian ever to win the prestigious Bellini d'Oro prize.
A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.
The word coloratura is originally from Italian, literally meaning "coloring", and derives from the Latin word colorare. When used in English, the term specifically refers to elaborate melody, particularly in vocal music and especially in operatic singing of the 18th and 19th centuries, with runs, trills, wide leaps, or similar virtuoso-like material. Its instrumental equivalent is ornamentation. It is also now widely used to refer to passages of such music, operatic roles in which such music plays a prominent part, and singers of these roles.
A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.
Subsequently, she has extended her repertoire to include a wide variety of other roles, including those from the Russian repertoire and works by Richard Strauss. In 2008, Anderson was elevated to "Commandeur" of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Governmentand in 2007 received a "Victoire d'honneur" at the "Victoires de la Musique Classique" in Paris.
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; his tone poems, including Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben, Symphonia Domestica, and An Alpine Symphony; and other instrumental works such as Metamorphosen and his Oboe Concerto. Strauss was also a prominent conductor in Western Europe and the Americas, enjoying quasi-celebrity status as his compositions became standards of orchestral and operatic repertoire.
The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and its supplementary status to the Ordre national du Mérite was confirmed by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.
Victoires de la Musique is an annual French award ceremony where the Victoire accolade is delivered by the French Ministry of Culture to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry that recognizes the best musical artists of the year. The classical and jazz versions are the Victoires de la musique classique and Victoires du Jazz.
Anderson has performed in noted opera houses including La Scala, Covent Garden, La Fenice, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Colón Theater. She has collaborated with conductors Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Kent Nagano and Michael Tilson Thomas.
La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.
The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.
Teatro La Fenice is an opera house in Venice, Italy. It is one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre", and in the history of opera as a whole. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers – Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi – were performed.
June Anderson was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Wallingford, Connecticut. She attended Lyman Hall High School where she was the 5th highest in academic standing among 505 graduates in the class of 1970. She began vocal studies at age 11 and at age 17 was the youngest finalist (at that time) in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
Wallingford is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 45,135 at the 2010 census. The urban center of the town is the Wallingford Center census-designated place, with a population of 18,209 at the 2010 census. The community was named after Wallingford, in England.
Lyman Hall High School is a public high school located at 70 Pond Hill Road in Wallingford, Connecticut. It is part of the Wallingford Public School System, and one of two public high schools in Wallingford, Mark T. Sheehan being the other.
She received a degree from Yale University in French, graduating cum laudeand then decided to pursue a career in singing. Anderson studied voice under Robert Leonard in New York City. She had numerous auditions but no engagements at first. She has said that she continued her pursuit as a challenge, giving herself a deadline of two years (after which she would, if unsuccessful, 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!"
Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.
Anderson sang in several productions in the Yale/New Haven area while still a high school student. In 1968, she sang in a production of Haydn's "L'infedeltà delusa" at Yale University. In 1970 she appeared as Gilda with the New Haven Opera Company in a production of Verdi's Rigoletto .
L'infedeltà delusa, Hob. 28/5, is an operatic burletta per musica by Joseph Haydn. The Italian libretto was by Marco Coltellini, perhaps reworked by Carl Friberth, who also took part in the first performance.
Gilda is a 1946 American film noir directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale and Glenn Ford as a young thug. The film is known for cinematographer Rudolph Maté's lush photography, costume designer Jean Louis's wardrobe for Hayworth, and choreographer Jack Cole's staging of "Put the Blame on Mame" and "Amado Mio", sung by Anita Ellis. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".
Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite serious initial problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the opera had a triumphant premiere at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851.
She made her professional opera debut as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the New York City Opera in 1978.Several years later, she would voice the Queen of the Night in the Oscar-winning Amadeus , directed by Miloš Forman. While at New York City Opera, she sang in a wide range of operas including The Golden Cockerel by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rigoletto and La Traviata by Verdi, Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia , Giulio Cesare by Handel, and Mozart's Don Giovanni (as Elvira). 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.
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Anderson left New York City Opera in 1982 and embarked on a European career.Anderson's career in this decade was marked by numerous debuts in quintessential bel canto roles in major European opera houses. She also participated in the recording of operatic works rarely heard in this era, including: Rossini's Mosè in Egitto , Wagner's Die Feen , Bizet's La jolie fille de Perth , Adolphe Adam's Le postillon de Lonjumeau , Fromental Halévy's La Juive , and Daniel Auber's La muette de Portici .
After being recommended to an Italian agent by Sherrill Milnes,she made her European performance debut in 1982 in the title role of Rossini's Semiramide in Rome. In 1983, Anderson debuted in Florence and Geneva in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, a part which became one of her most frequent portrayals. She also sang Die Feen by Wagner in Munich, and appeared in North America: Bellini's I puritani in Edmonton and Il barbiere di Siviglia in Seattle.
In 1984, she performed her first Amina in Vincenzo Bellini's La sonnambula in Venice, opening 135 years to the day after Maria Malibran's final Amina in that same theatre.She also appeared as Marie in La fille du régiment by Donizetti in Parma. In 1985, Anderson debuted as Isabelle in the historic revival of Robert le Diable by Meyerbeer in Paris. That year she also appeared in a rarely seen Verdi work, La battaglia di Legnano , in Pittsburgh.
In 1986, she performed her first Desdemona in Rossini's Otello in Venice. The same year, she made her debut at La Scala in Milan in La sonnambula, and her debut at Covent Garden in productions of Semiramide and Lucia di Lammermoor. She also appeared in La fille du régiment at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.
Anderson returned to the Opéra-Comique in 1987, appearing as Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani , and gave a recital at the Paris Opera with Alfredo Kraus. In Italy, she returned to La Scala for her debut as Giuletta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi and returned to Venice for her first performance of Beatrice di Tenda , also by Bellini.
Anderson also appeared in a 1988 concert version of Beatrice di Tenda at Carnegie Hall, with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Elsewhere in 1988, Anderson focused on Rossini roles: playing her first Armida in Aix-en-Provence, appearing in Otello at the Pesaro Festival, and debuting as Anna in Maometto II (an early version of Rossini's Le siège de Corinthe ) at the San Francisco Opera (she had previously recorded this work with Samuel Ramey in 1983). She also appeared that year in Luisa Miller by Verdi at the Opéra National de Lyon. In 1989, she made her long-awaited debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera as Gilda in Rigoletto , with Luciano Pavarotti. The New York Times review wrote of her Met debut:
Miss Anderson's debut as Gilda, although belated, could not have been more welcome. The Metropolitan is not rich in artists of this caliber. The tall soprano left America a decade ago to build a phenomenal European career, chiefly in the florid works of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini. She demonstrated in a Caro nome of exquisite taste, effortless fluidity and pinpoint precision that she is a master of the bel canto style. She is comfortable above high C, but the lower ranges do not suffer in quality or power. The wide leaps of the Caro nome coda were taken effortlessly and squarely on the note. 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.
In July 1989, she sang at the inaugural gala of the new Opéra Bastille in Paris, performing Ombre légère from Le pardon de Ploërmel , by Meyerbeer. (Not a fan of the modernist space, Anderson was later quoted as saying, "The place looks like a gymnasium.")
Leonard Bernstein selected her to perform as Cunegonde in a December 13, 1989 London concert version of Candide conducted by the composer (for which she later shared an award for Best Classical Album at the 34th annual Grammy Awards (1992), given for the December 1989 Abbey Road Studios recording by the same cast and conductor).
Twelve days later, again with Bernstein, she appeared in Berlin for a Christmas Day performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor "Choral" at the Schauspielhaus, celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall. The December 25, 1989 concert was broadcast live in more than twenty countries to an estimated audience of 100 million people, and was performed by an orchestra and chorus made up of many nationalities: from Germany, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Chorus of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and members of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden; from the Soviet Union, members of the Orchestra of the Kirov Theatre, from the United Kingdom, members of the London Symphony Orchestra; from the USA, members of the New York Philharmonic, and from France, members of the Orchestre de Paris.
In the next decade, Anderson continued to pursue traditional bel canto roles, but also expanded her repertoire. Anderson began with a January 1990 performance of the Berlioz song cycle Les nuits d'été at Carnegie Hall, with Giuseppe Sinopoli conducting London's Philharmonia Orchestra. Later that year, she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in an opulent production of Rossini's Semiramide , with Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey. In 1990, Anderson also performed in Pesaro in a production of the rarely seen Ricciardo e Zoraide, also by Rossini, and visited the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor directed by Andrei Şerban. She closed 1990 with her New Year's Eve gala concert with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic broadcast nationwide on Live from Lincoln Center on PBS.
In February 1991, she returned to Carnegie Hall to perform La sonnambula with the Opera Orchestra of New York.Also in 1991, she participated in the Gala celebrating the Silver Anniversary of the "new" house of Metropolitan Opera, performing "Je suis Titania" from Mignon , conducted by James Levine. She also sang with Pavarotti at a gala concert in Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia, Italy to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his first stage appearance.
In 1992, she created her first Elena in La donna del lago at La Scala, the house's first production of the opera in 150 years, staged to mark the bicentenary of Rossini's birth. That same year, she appeared in a controversial new production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera staged by Francesca Zambello.Edward Rothstein wrote in The New York Times :
[S]ome of the audience's outrage may have been due to the contrast between the staging and the many musical virtues that survived in the performance, which was the most complete version of the score ever presented at the Met. June Anderson -- who must have had black-and-blue arms by the evening's end, so often was she grabbed and tossed about -- sang Lucia with more and more refined empathy as the opera proceeded....She delivered a mad scene that combined virtuosic control with a lovely, haunting innocence.
The following year, Anderson appeared as Maria in Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa , in a concert performance at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York. In 1993, she also appeared in Verdi's La traviata at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Of that performance, the Chicago Tribune critic wrote:
The show belongs, of course, to Violetta Valery. Anderson quite simply has done nothing finer for Lyric Opera. She internalized every emotion of the role with her usual intensity and conviction, from desperate gaiety to startled joy at her first stirrings of love for Alfredo, right on through to her deathbed scene, which tugged mightily at the heartstrings of even the most jaded opera-goers Every dramatic gesture seemed careful thought out, yet nothing appeared mannered or merely gratuitous. . . .[H]er fiorature were uniformly true, she was able to project easily throughout the theater even when singing softly (how beautifully she floated the bel canto line of "Addio, del passato", giving us both verses of the aria), and she commanded the audience's sympathy like the canny singing actress she is. Anderson's Violetta lives up to the great Lyric tradition.
Anderson began 1995 by appearing in Paris with Roberto Alagna in another controversial production of Lucia di Lammermoor , staged by Andrei Şerban and designed by William Dudley. While the International Herald Tribune noted that Şerban and Dudley were greeted by a "chorus of boos", it wrote of Anderson's performance:
[T]here were nothing but cheers for the impressive cast. June Anderson is surely the Lucia of the moment, and although she lent herself heroically to the frenetic demands of the staging, she also sang the role with superb possession of her vocal means and understanding of the psychological subtext.
Later in 1995, Anderson returned to the Metropolitan Opera in a new production of La fille du régiment with Pavarotti, of which The New York Times wrote:
Ms. Anderson's take on Marie is a legitimate one. Winsome charm is at a minimum; tomboy toughness takes over. The role is, of course, one of the coloratura soprano's richest gold mines. Ms. Anderson takes its long series of hurdles with courage, adventure and cool beauty of singing. Wearing a uniform as well as she does is no small help to the evening.
After appearing as Desdemona in Rossini's Otello for many years, in 1995 Anderson debuted in the same role in Verdi's Otello in Los Angeles, opposite Plácido Domingo. She also created her first Lucrezia in Verdi's I due Foscari at Covent Garden and ended the year with her debut as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera.
In 1996, Anderson portrayed Joan of Arc in Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco , both in concert versions in New York and Barcelona, and in a stage production at Covent Garden. She returned to Tchaikovsky in 1996, portraying her first Tatiana in Eugene Onegin in Tokyo. She also appeared in La Traviata, alongside the Italian tenor Salvatore Fisichella, in Tokyo that same year. She participated in the Gala celebrating James Levine's 25th Anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera, singing with Carlo Bergonzi and Ferruccio Furlanetto a selection from I Lombardi alla prima crociata , a work she recorded in its entirety with Levine, Luciano Pavarotti, Samuel Ramey and the Metropolitan Opera orchestra that same year.
In 1997, Anderson made her first appearance in Vincenzo Bellini's Norma at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Chicago Tribune noted that Anderson's "clear, bright upper range was at its clarion best, the soprano singing with strength and nuanced sensitivity" and hailed her acting as well: "[D]ramatically, Anderson was exceptional, drawing out all of the conflicting emotions with an intensity tempered by dignity."Later in 1997, she returned to the Opera Orchestra of New York to portray her first Elvira in Verdi's Ernani. In 1998, Anderson spoke in Opera News of her move away from light coloratura roles "into deeper water":
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. I didn't want to sound like a soubrette trying to do these things. I've done things like Il Corsaro and La Battaglia di Legnano very early in my career, so Verdi's always been a presence. I did mostly Rigolettos and Traviatas, and then I added Desdemona a few years ago. ... So I suppose Leonora would be next in line."
Indeed, in 1998, Anderson played her first Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera, in a cast including Richard Margison and Dolora Zajick.
In recent years, Anderson has returned occasionally to her prior roles – appearing in Lucia in São Paulo in 2000 and Athens in 2002, La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in 2001, and new productions of La sonnambula (Opéra de Marseille, 2004) and Maometto II (Bilbao, 2005). She continues to appear as Norma , in Parma in and Teatro Colón 2001, and at the Opéra de Marseille and the Canadian Opera Company in 2006. Of that latter performance, Toronto's The Globe and Mail wrote:
Bel canto is a term too often bandied about, but it does mean what it says: beautiful singing, but beautiful as distinct from merely pretty; beautiful not only in its musical sensitivity and accuracy of pitch in the face of extreme vocal challenges devised by the composer, but also in its penetration and detailed communication of the emotions encompassed in the music and drama. It was all this that June Anderson's Norma comprehended and conveyed. . . .
Anderson,  also, as a bonus, looked the part: feminine, classy and dignified. I doubt there's been a markedly better Norma since Callas and Sutherland.
The Toronto Star wrote of Anderson's portrayal in Norma:
[T]he title role is a jewel for any soprano diva's crown. . . .And how very special that one of the great contemporary Normas, American soprano June Anderson, is present to bring down the house. . . . Anderson, a late addition to the cast, has a remarkable dramatic presence. . . Anderson captures the full conflict that besets Norma....The American soprano also captures the role's intimate side, first shown in the famous aria "Casta diva", which invokes the goddess of the moon. Anderson alone is worth the price of admission.
Anderson continues to claim new territory as well, with debut performances in Donizetti's Anna Bolena (Pittsburgh 2000) and Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (Monte Carlo 2004), The Bassarids by Hans Werner Henze (Théâtre du Châtelet, 2005), Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims (Monte Carlo 2005), and the Richard Strauss operas Capriccio (Naples 2002) and Daphne (La Fenice 2005). Of her debut in Daphne a reviewer in Opera magazine wrote:
The performance seemed to me an absolute triumph for June Anderson. At a career stage where she could reasonably be expected to scale down effort, ambition and new projects, she has instead taken the admirable decision to continue expanding her artistic range - as this first-ever Daphne (follow-up to her recent first ever Capriccio Countess) demonstrated.... [T]he 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 2007, Anderson performed Verdi's Requiem in Paris with conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the Orchestre de Paris, Norma in Leipzig, and at galas at La Fenice in Venice (June 2007), and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens (July 2007) honoring the 30th anniversary of the death of Maria Callas. She appeared as Anna Bolena in Bilbao in October 2007, and ended the year with Verdi's Requiem in Manchester and at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
In January 2008, Anderson was elevated from "Officier" to "Commandeur" of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government, the highest level of commendation within the Ordre recognizing "eminent artists and writers, as well as individuals who have contributed to the recognition of French culture in the world."Her 2008 schedule included recitals and concerts in Aix-en-Provence, Brussels, Bordeaux, Paris, a performance with conductor Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, at the Bel Canto Festival in Québec, and a Christmas concert in Geneva. In 2009, Anderson appeared in the title roles of Norma at Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Italy (February - March 2009), and Lucrezia Borgia at Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège, Belgium (June 2009).
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