February 15, 2005 by

June Bronhill

11 comments

Categories: Musicians

jbronhill.jpg   Australian opera star June Bronhill died in her sleep on Jan. 24. Cause of death was not released. She was 75.

Born June Gough in Broken Hill, New South Wales, she took piano and vocal lessons throughout her childhood. After winning a singing competition in 1950, June changed her last name to Bronhill to honor the people of her hometown, who raised £1,500 to send her overseas.

Bronhill made her debut in 1954 at Sadler’s Wells Opera Company in London as Adele in “Die Fledermaus.” Four years later, she received a 20 minute standing ovation on opening night for her performance in Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow.” Despite her small stature — she was barely five feet tall — Bronhill’s vibrant personality and clear voice could fill an entire opera house.

For four decades, the coloratura soprano performed in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Bronhill regularly appeared on the British Broadcasting Corp. show “Friday Night Is Music Night,” but was best known for her roles in the operas “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “The Magic Flute,” “The Cunning Little Vixen,” “Rigoletto,” “Don Pasquale” and “The Sound of Music.” She sang on 30 operetta albums, most of which are currently out of circulation. However, several of Bronhill’s early London recordings were re-released in 2004.

For her contributions to the music industry, Bronhill was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1976. An auditorium and a street in Broken Hill were also named in her honor.

Bronhill suffered from breast cancer in the 1980s, then steadily lost her hearing. Robbed of her music and the ability to perform, the gregarious singer was forced to retire in 1993. Bronhill married twice and had one daughter.

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11 Responses to June Bronhill

  1. Steve

    I have many fond memories of seeing June Bronhill on stage in opera and operetta. The end of an era as June was the last great Australian operetta singer. Rest in Peace.

  2. Pat Bridgland

    I was 14 yrs old when I got to sing with June in the Saddler’s Wells Theatre, in London (’54)
    I was a ginger bread kid in the production of Hansel and Gretal….she was Gretal, and had a wonderful voice, and was sooo friendly with us all.
    A happy memory for me.
    Joyce Blackham was Hansel.
    Pat Bridgland (UK)

  3. Ken Caswell

    I saw June bronhill perform many times. I first heard her on a radio broadcast in the UK in 1958!
    Not knowing who she was I was extremely moved by her voice. I was 14 years old at the time! After that I was “hooked” and followed her career as much as I could.
    She still means a great deal to me and I play her recordings frequently.
    Ken Caswell.
    UK.

  4. Ann Lockey

    I remember seeing June Bronhill in Sydney c.1958 in “The Merry Widow”. At this performance she received a standing ovation for a brilliant performance. She will always be remembered.
    Ann Lockey
    Wellington, New Zealand

  5. Tim Gadd

    Please note, Bronhill did not lose her hearing to tinnitus. Tinnitus doesn’t cause deafness, though the two are often present at once, and deafness will always make tinnitus worse, by masking outside noises.

  6. John Carrington

    June Bronhill sang every song as if it were her last, and it was just for you.My soul heard her first, my ears came later. Irreplaceable

  7. Richard Roper

    June was a most charming and giving person. I met her several times and she was always generous with her time. A glorious voice and personality, the world is a sorrier place without her. Rest in peace June and thankyou for all those thrilling performances you gave.

  8. Sylvia Hankin

    I also got to sing with Ms Bronhill as I was in The cunning little Vixen in 1961 playing her part in the first act as a cub caught by the Forrester and part of her family of cubs the rest of the time.She was loveley have a signed photo of her as my “Mum” Colin Davis was the conductor and Colin Graham produced it. She was very easy to talk to and the whole production was great as I had to sing on my own in the first act. Very sad to find she has passed away.

  9. Jane McGeorge

    Can you tell me where I can purchase a copy of the above photo of June Bronhill? I’m trying to find out who the owner is so I can use a copy in a professional production. Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Jane

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