Helena Juntunen is currently one of Finlands most dazzling young sopranos to have established an international career. Her responsive soprano voice enraptures audiences with its freshness, and her phrasing is praised for its expressive and natural quality. Helenas career in Finland was established through winning many competitions, one of the most important of which was the ladies section of the Lappeenranta Singing Competition in 2002, and in October 2006 she was awarded the Karita Mattila prize.
Helena Juntunen started her singing studies at the age of 15 at the Oulu Conservatoire as a student of Airi Tokola. She has graduated as a Master of Music from the Sibelius Academy, where she was taught by Anita Välkki.
The role of Marguerite in Gounods Faust at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 2002 can be considered as Helenas professional breakthrough. She made her debut with the Connecticut Opera in the USA in the same role during the 2003-2004 season. In fact the season could be considered as the season of debuts as Helena also made her debut in Genoa in Rossinis Il viaggio a Reims (Journey to Reims) as Madame Cortese, in Antwerp as Zdenka in Strauss Arabella, and as Pamina in Mozarts The Magic Flute at the Saxon State Opera Dresden. In addition, Helena also gave her debut concert at New Yorks Carnegie Hall in October 2003 and then in Tokyo.
Helena Juntunen has been a regular performer at the Finnish National Opera since 1999. He as appeared in such roles as Zdenka in Arabella and as Madame Cortese in Il viaggio a Reims under the direction of Nobel-winning Dario Fo. The list of roles include Sophie in Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, Nedda in Il Pagliacci, Mimi in La Boheme, Liisa in Pohjalaisia, Pamina in Magic Flute and world premiers such as Alide in Juri Reinveres Purge (Puhdistus) and Helena in Sebastian Fagerlunds Autumn Sonata along Anne-Sofie von Otter.
The 2007-2008 opera year opened in Nancy with Kurt Weills The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny. In Geneva, Juntunen was heard in the role of Pamina. Spring 2008 also included a debut in the role of the Countess in Mozarts The Marriage of Figaro in Nice. Summer 2008 highlight was the title role in the new opera by Finnish composer Veli-Matti Puumala, “Anna Liisa”. Juntunen’s engagements for the 2008-2009 included debut at the Göteborgs Operan in the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohéme.
Most recently she made her debut with Opéra National de Lyon as both Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Mimi in Puccinis La Boheme with Gothenborgs Opera, Marietta (Korngolds Die tote Stadt) and Infantin Clara (Der Zwerg) both for Opéra National de Lorraine, Marie (Wozzeck)with Opéra de Nice, Zdenka (Arabella) for Vlaamse Opera, Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) in Wasa Theatre, Greta Graumann (Der Ferne Klang of Schreker) in Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg. She is also particularly associated with the role of Pamina, which she performed at Festival dAix en Provence under Daniel Harding, at La Monnaie under René Jacobs, and at Grand Théâtre de Genève, Wiener Festwochen, Theater an der Wien and Sachsische Staatsoper Dresden.
Juntunen’s recent concert highlights include Luonnotar of Sibelius in Sydney and London Vladimir Ashkenazy, in Amsterdam with Leif Segerstam, Ottawa with John Storgårds, Mendelssohns A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Lucerne Festival under Vladimir Jurowski, Unsuk Chins SnagS&Snarls in Stavanger, Helsinki and London, creation of Haflidi Hallgrimssons new song cycle in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Reykjavik, Beethovens Missa Solemnis with La Verdi under Xian Zhang and with Sir Colin Davies in London, Bonn, Paris and New York Strausss Vier letzte Lieder with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Leif Segerstam and her debuts with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Donald Runnicles with Ein deutsches Requiem, and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Vänskä with Szymanowskis Stabat Mater.
In recent season Juntunen has performed Madama Butterfly and Donna Elvira in Savonlinna Opera Festival, Marie/Marietta of Die Tote Stadt in Simon Stones critically acclaimed production in Basel, Salome in Olivier Pys production in Strasbourg, Kata Kabanova in Opera National de Lorraine and soprano part in staged version of Dvoráks Stabat Mater in Montpellier.
Helena Juntunen has appeared as a soloist with numerous Finnish orchestras and worked with conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Osmo Vänskä, Mikko Franck and Hannu Lintu. Helenas recordings for the Ondine label have included a solo album of lieder by Leevi Madetoja together with the pianist Gustav Djupsjöbacka, and complete recordings of Einojuhani Rautavaaras operas Aleksis Kivi and Auringon talo (House of the Sun). In spring 2006, the BIS label released the Spirit of Nature album in the Sibelius edition, which features not only Luonnotar but also the world premiere recording of the orchestral versions of the songs Höstkväll (Autumn Evening) and Hertig Magnus (Duke Magnus), conducted by Osmo Vänskä.
Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Jukka Isopuro: The soprano Helena Juntunen has already demonstrated that she is among the elite in traditional bel canto, but her vocal acrobatics in the opera the Ladies Room were nothing short of astounding. An unfailing clarity of tone and beautifully expanding high notes combined with the ever changing timbre of her sound and changes in expression that were as fast as lightning proved not only her ability to live the role but also her steely-sharp technique. (Perttu Haapanens composition concert in the Temppeliaukio church on 11 March 2007. Avanti!, conductor Dima Slobodeniuk.