b. June Mary Gough, 26 June 1929, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia, d. 24 January 2005, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Taking piano and singing lessons from early childhood, Bronhill won a singing competition in 1950. Recognizing that her talent needed advanced training the people of her home town raised the £1, 500 it would cost to send her overseas. In 1952 she demonstrated her gratitude by adopting the stage name Bronhill, a contraction of the town’s name. Although of tiny stature, Bronhill had enormous stage presence and this, allied to her bell-like coloratura soprano voice, made her a very popular performer. She made her London debut in 1954 in a Sadler’s Wells Opera Company production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus and also appeared in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro.
In 1958 she starred in a production of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow that brought her an astonishing 20-minute ovation. Her performance in that show of ‘Vilja’ was always a showstopper. During her career, Bronhill sang in numerous operas and operettas, including Lucia Di Lammermoor, The Magic Flute, The Cunning Little Vixen, Rigoletto and Don Pasquale. In addition to playing in her homeland and in the UK, she also appeared in New Zealand and South Africa. For some years she sang on BBC radio, notably in Friday Night Is Music Night. She also made many records, mostly music from operettas. In Australia in 1962, she sang the role of Maria von Trapp in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s The Sound Of Music. In 1976 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the music industry. In her home town a street and an auditorium are named for her. She had suffered from cancer in the 80s and tinnitus gradually led to profound deafness. Her career ended in 1993. In her final years, Bronhill also suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.