Born in Peckham, she studied with Audrey Langford, and became a member of the Royal Opera House chorus in 1949. She made her debut as a soloist on 5 July 1955 as the Page in Salome, followed by Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and later roles included Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Marina in Boris Godunov, Preziosilla in La forza del destino, Eboli in Don Carlos, Amneris in Aida, and sang the title role in Carmen, amongst others. Beginning in 1957, she became a regular guest at the Glyndebourne Festival, notably as Charlotte in Werther and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.
Noticed and encouraged by Georg Solti, Veasey began adding Wagner roles to her repertoire, notably Waltraute and Fricka in Die Walküre. She commercially recorded the role of Frica for Deutsche Grammophon with Herbert von Karajan. Her other major roles included Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Venus in Tannhäuser (opera), and Kundry in Parsifal. Under Colin Davis' guidance, she also became an illustrious interpreter of Berlioz's works, singing both Didon and Cassandre in Les Troyens, and Marguerite in La damnation de Faust, which she also recorded for him.
On the international scene, Veasey appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, at La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, and the San Francisco Opera. In contemporary works, she created the role of Andromache in Michael Tippett's King Priam in 1962, and in 1976 created The Emperor in Hans Werner Henze's We Come to the River.
Although not associated with the bel canto repertoire, in 1966 Veasey recorded the role of Agnese in Beatrice di Tenda, opposite Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti, under Richard Bonynge, and appeared as Adalgisa in Norma, opposite Montserrat Caballé and Jon Vickers, in the 1974 production at the Théâtre Antique d'Orange. Veasey retired from the stage in 1982; her last performance was as Herodias at Covent Garden, in the same opera in which she began her solo career, Salome by Richard Strauss.
Veasey died on 22 February 2022, at the age of 91.
- "Georg Solti – in pictures". The Guardian. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- Alec Robertson (19 June 2017). "The Karajan Ring: the original reviews (1967-1970)". Gramophone. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- Andrew Clements (12 May 2011). "The best of Sir Colin Davis on disc". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- John Rockwell (25 July 1976). "Henze's First Opera in a Decade Seen in London". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
- "Fallece la mezzosoprano inglesa Josephine Veasey a los 91 años". Platea Magazine. 23 February 2022. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
- Pâris, Alain, Le Dictionnaire des interprètes, Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont, 1989 ISBN 2-221-06660-X
- Warrack, John and Ewan West, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, (1992), ISBN 0-19-869164-5