June Anderson, born on December 30, 1952, authored one of the unique opera careers of the 20th century.
The lyric soprano seemed destined for the path often taken, but wound up moving in diverse directions with regards to repertoire. This very aspect was revealed in her becoming the first non-Italian to ever win the prestigious Bellini d’Oro Prize. She sang at many of the famous opera houses throughout her career, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, San Francisco Opera, La Fenice, among others, but often sang rare repertoire.
Here is a look at some of the rare works that she championed throughout her career.
Robert le Diable
While she recorded a number of rare works throughout her early years, it was her participation in the historic revival of the Meyerbeer opera in Paris in 1985 that really established her as soprano taking on rare repertoire. Per a New York Times review, “Another American, June Anderson, won enthusiastic ovations as Isabelle, Robert’s love. She looked grand and sang convincingly, some rawness and unsteadiness aside.” She has a recording of the work.
Beatrice di Tenda
The soprano took on the rare Bellini opera for the first time in Venice in the late 1980s before performing a concert version of the work in Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York. Per a New York Times review, “The former New York City Opera artist has built a European career in recent years by taking on bel canto roles that other sopranos don’t want to sing, mainly because they can’t. Miss Anderson is made of braver stuff. The title role of Bellini’s opera, written for Giuditta Pasta in 1833, lies extraordinarily high and probably was tailored for that legendary diva’s voice. Miss Anderson…attacked Beatrice’s brilliantly curlicued music with authority and a voice of piercing power…. In Beatrice’s grand finale…Miss Anderson took off into the stratospheric area above high C, which justifiably set off a stomping, cheering ovation from the Carnegie audience.”
A major proponent of Rossini’s music throughout her career, she championed “Maometto II” throughout most of her singing years. Prominent performances of the opera include her first ever performance as Anna in Pesaro in 1988 as well as a series of showcases in Bilbao in 2005. There is also a 1983 recording of the work with Samuel Ramey. You can also add “La Donna del Lago” and
Mosè in Egitto” to the list of rare Rossini works Anderson championed.
She famously took on Verdi’s “La Battaglia di Legnano” in 1984 in Pittsburgh and recorded such operas as Wagner’s “Die Feen,” Adam’s “Le postillon de Lonjumeau,” Bizet’s “La jolie Fille de Perth,” and Halévy’s “La Juive,” among others.