June Bronhill

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June Bronhill, photographed in 1973 by Allan Warren

June Bronhill OBE (26 June 1929 – 24 January 2005) was an internationally acclaimed Australian soprano opera singer.

Biography[edit]

Bronhill was born June Mary Gough in the inland Australian city of Broken Hill, New South Wales. Her stage name, Bronhill, which she used from 1952, was an abbreviation of Broken Hill, which was her way of thanking her home town for its support in raising money to send her overseas for professional training as a singer.[1][2] She won the Sun Aria, now known as the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria, in 1950.

Bronhill trained in London and gained early exposure with the Sadler's Wells company in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. She also sang leading roles in Die Fledermaus, The Gypsy Baron, Menotti's The Telephone, Flotow's Martha and Hansel and Gretel. Her roles in Offenbach's operas, with the Sadler's Wells company, included Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld and Gabrielle in La vie parisienne. In 1964 she appeared as Elizabeth in the musical Robert and Elizabeth at the Lyric Theatre, London alongside Keith Michell as Robert Browning, a show she later took to Australia. She also appeared in England in tours of two Ivor Novello musicals, Glamorous Night and The Dancing Years, the latter playing a season at the Saville Theatre in London. She also appeared as the Mother Abbess in the 1981 London revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Bronhill was perhaps best known for the title role of Hanna Glawari in Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow, which she sang with the Sadler's Wells Opera (now known as English National Opera), with Thomas Round as Danilo. She also appeared as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music on the Australian stage. She was well known in the London West End theatres as well as on the opera stage.

Bronhill made frequent visits back to her homeland, singing in operas such as The Merry Widow, Orpheus in the Underworld, Die Fledermaus and Rigoletto at the Sydney Opera House in 1975. In 1976, she decided to move back to Australia permanently. In Australia she appeared in operas such as Il Seraglio (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) and a Victoria State Opera production of Donnizetti's, Maria Stuarda in July 1976, directed by Robin Lovejoy[3] with a cast including Nance Grant conducted by Richard Divall.[4] She played operetta roles such as Josephine (H.M.S. Pinafore), Phyllis (Iolanthe) and Ruth (The Pirates of Penzance). She also had roles in The Maid of the Mountains, Call Me Madam, A Little Night Music, Nunsense, My Fair Lady and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as well as appearing in the non-musical plays Arsenic and Old Lace and Straight and Narrow.

Bronhill also appeared in the role of Mrs Crawford in the television comedy series Are You Being Served?, the Australian version of the British comedy series, as well as in Lipton Tea television advertisements singing an adaption of Fugue for Tinhorns.

Bronhill was a patron of the Australian Girls Choir from the choir's beginning. There is a scholarship in her name, the June Bronhill Encouragement Scholarship, awarded each year to the chorister with the most choral prowess.

Personal life[edit]

Bronhill married twice, first to Brian Martin and second to Richard Finny. Both marriages ended in divorce. She had a daughter, Carolyn, by her second marriage.

Death[edit]

Bronhill died on 24 January 2005, aged 75, in her sleep at a Sydney nursing home. Her last years were marred by deafness and social isolation. Her home town, Broken Hill, honoured her by declaring a minute's silence during the 2005 Australia Day celebrations two days after her death.

Autobiography[edit]

Bronhill's autobiography, The Merry Bronhill, was published in 1987. EMI Australia produced a compilation album with the same title to publicise the book.

Honours[edit]

Bronhill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year's Honours of 1977,[5] and was later given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Australian Variety Club.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biographies — Australian National University
  2. ^ Similarly, Helen Porter Mitchell chose the stage name of Nellie Melba (after Melbourne); Florence Mary Wilson chose the stage name of Florence Austral; and Elsie Mary Fischer chose the stage name Elsa Stralia (after Australia).
  3. ^ http://www.liveperformance.com.au/halloffame/robinlovejoy4.html
  4. ^ http://www.operapassion.com/cd5954.html
  5. ^ It's an Honour

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]