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

Biography

She was born June Mary Gough in the inland Australian city of Broken Hillmarker in New South Walesmarker. 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 — in the same way that Helen Porter Mitchell chose the stage name of Nellie Melba (after Melbournemarker), and that Florence Mary Wilson chose the stage name of Florence Austral and Elsie Mary Fischer chose the stage name Elsa Stralia (after Australia).

She trained in Londonmarker 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, Menottis The Telephone, Flotows Marta 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 June appeared as Elizabeth in the musical 'Robert And Elizabeth' at the London Lyric Theatre 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' & '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 'The Sound Of Music' at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

She was perhaps best known for 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 created Maria von Trapp in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music on the Australian stage. Bronhill was well known in the Londonmarker West Endmarker theatres as well as on the opera stage.

Over the years she 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 Housemarker in 1975. In 1976 she decided to move back to Australia permanently.

In Australia she appeared in operas such as Il Seraglio and Maria Stuarda. She played operetta roles such as Josephine (HMS Pinafore), Phyllis (Iolanthe) and Ruth (The Pirates Of Penzance). She also essayed 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, and starred in the straight plays Arsenic And Old Lace and Straight and Narrow.

June 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.

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.

Marriages

June 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

She died on 24 January 2005, aged 75, in her sleep at a Sydneymarker nursing home. Her hometown, Broken Hill, honoured her by declaring a minute's silence during the 2005 Australia Day celebrations two days after her death.

Autobiography

In 1987 she published her autobiography, The Merry Bronhill, and EMI Australia produced a compilation disc with the same title to publicise the book.

Honours

Bronhill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and later given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Australian Variety Club.

The Australian Girls Choir offer an encouragement scholarship in honour of June Bronhill to a Year 12 chorister each year.

References

  1. Biographies — Australian National University


External links




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