This is an affectionate, delightful look at the life of June Bronhill, one of Australia’s theatrical legends, by Richard Davis.
The book has twelve chapters, a list of June’s stage performances (this reviewer saw her several times in various productions), a list of the recordings she made and a select bibliography as well as an index and a loving forward by Marina Prior. All the photos included are in black and white.
June’s career included performances in grand opera, comic opera/operetta, musicals, straight plays, variety, radio, concerts, television and assorted recordings. Her extraordinary talent brought her success, fame and the devotion of a legion of fans. There was a private June the public rarely saw.
In Davis’ biography we follow the life of one of Australia’s adored theatrical stars and have glimpses of her personal life. Readers also discover her approach to learning a new role and developing a character for performance
We follow June’s life from outback Broken Hill to Covent Garden and London’s West End, the triumphs and disappointments of her career, learn about the voice and music teachers she studied with, her various shattered marriages (to Brian Martin and Richard Finney) and affairs, including her turbulent calamitous but long relationship with Rex ( ‘Freddie’) Wrennall, her daughter Carolyn (Biddy) as well as the battles she fought against ill health culminating in career-destroying deafness, and the sad decline at the end of her life.
Born June Gough, June took her name from a slight adjustment of ‘Broken Hill ‘to acknowledge her home town. We learn about June’s parents and her early voice training. June’s voice was discovered at the age of five. As a young operatic hopeful, we also learn about her participation In the City of Sydney Eisteddfod Sun Aria and her friendly rivalry with Joan Sutherland.
June won the Sun Aria in 1950 and moved to London to further her career. She was snapped up by the Sadlers Wells Opera company but also a couple of times worked with the Royal Opera. Until her last years she alternated at times between Australia and the UK.
We follow her career – highlights include especially ‘The Merry Widow’ which made her a star. Ever after she was associated with Vilja which became known as ‘June’s tune’. Other memorable experiences include June’s alternating with Sutherland in ‘Lucia da Lamermoor’, not forgetting her sensational appearances as Gilda in ‘Rigoletto’, ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’, ‘Don Pasquale’, ‘The Gypsy Baron’ and more.
June was also in many Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, including ‘The Mikado’ and ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ as well as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Nunsense’ ,and ‘How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’, to name just a few.In ‘straight’ plays she was a smash hit as Elizabeth Barrett-Browning in ‘Robert and Elizabeth’.
Mention is made of June’s various charity fundraising performances ( for example, in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracey) and also that she was an adjudicator for the Sun Aria in 1975 and her TV appearances, as well as her autobiography ‘The Merry Bronhill’.
The year1994 saw June’s retirement after her performances in ‘The Straight and Narrow’. Sadly, her health declined dramatically especially after her 70th birthday and she passed away in June 2005.
June’s mischievousness, kindness and caring shine throughout the book as well as the fact she was quite a party person.
This was an intimate view of one of Australia’s most loved operatic and musical divas.
Category : Biography
Size 234 x 156 mm
Extent 258 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST