Biography

Helena-Juntunen-credit-Heikki-TuuliHelena 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 in the 2004-2005 season included Sophie in Strauss Der Rosenkavalier and Liu in Puccinis Turandot, which was performed at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in the summer of 2005.

In 2006 Helena Juntunen made her debut at the Vienna Festival Weeks as Pamina in Mozarts The Magic Flute, which received a glowing reception. The role of Pamina is one that Helena has sung in Brussels, Nancy, Minnesota, Caen, Vienna, Aix-en-Provence and Geneva.

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. In spring 2008, Finnish audiences had the opportunity to hear Helena in the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohéme and later in March, in the role of Pamina when The Magic Flute returned to the stage of the Finnish National Opera. 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 includes debut at the Göteborgs Operan in the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohéme and in the Finnish National Opera she will be heard as Liisa in the Ostrobothnians by Leevi Madetoja.

Most recently she made her debut with Opéra National de Lyon as both Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni). Other notable roles include Marietta (Korngolds Die tote Stadt) and Jenny Hill (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) both for Opéra National de Lorraine, Marie (Wozzeck)with Opéra de Nice, and Zdenka (Arabella) for Vlaamse Opera. 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.

Last season highlights were the world première of Jüri Reinveres Purge at the Finnish National Opera and her debut in the role of Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) for Wasa Theatre. This season she will debut in Der ferne Klang (Scherker) at Opéra National du Rhin and Il Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) at the Finnish National Opera and as Donna Clara in Zemlinsky’s opera Der Zwerg in Lorraine in France.

Juntunen’s recent concert highlights include Mendelssohns A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Lucerne Festival under Vladimir Jurowski, Beethovens Missa Solemnis with La Verdi under Xian Zhang, 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.

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 Dmitri Sloboden