Claramae Turner

Claramae Turner

Birth
Dinuba, Tulare County, California, USA
Death 18 May 2013 (aged 92)
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, USA
Burial Eureka, Humboldt County, California, USA
Memorial ID 111291066 · View Source
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Opera Singer. A contralto who had a noted career at the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) and later at the New York City Opera, she shall possibly be best remembered for a song written for her that she sang many times but never recorded, George Cory and Douglas Cross' 1954 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". Born Claramae Haas, she was raised in Central California, studied in San Francisco, appeared in some Gilbert and Sullivan productions, and sang in the San Francisco Opera (SFO) chorus before making her 1942 formal debut there as the offstage Voice from Italo Montemezzi's "L'Amore dei tre re". Claramae remained with the SFO thru 1947, her roles including Berta from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", Grimgerde of Wagner's "Die Walkure", and Mercedes in Georges Bizet's "Carmen", then gave the first of her 105 Metropolitan performances on November 16, 1946, in what would be one of her often sung parts there, Marthe from Charles Gounod's "Faust". Also in 1946 she created the role of Madame Flora in Gian Carlo Menotti's originally-written-for-radio opera "The Medium" while during her five seasons at the Met her assignments included Grimgerde, Berta, Marcellina of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", the stepmother Gertrud from Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel", the frustrated Princess Amneris in Verdi's "Aida", the Inkeeper of Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" with Ezio Pinza in the lead, Erda of Wagner's "Siegfried", Gertrude of Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" as part of an incomparable cast headlined by Bidu Sayao and Jussi Bjorling, the greedy Aunt Zita in Puccini's comedic "Gianni Schicchi", and Rosette from Jules Massenet's "Manon". Claramae left the Met in 1950 and in 1953 joined City Opera where she was to remain thru 1969, her characters including Madame Flora, the Witch in "Hansel and Gretel", the title cigarette girl of "Carmen", Zia Principessa from Puccini's "Suor Angelica", Augusta opposite Beverly Sills in Douglas Moore's "The Ballad of Baby Doe", and Ma Ross of Aaron Copland's 1965 "The Tender Land", a role which she created under the baton of the composer. In 1954 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" was written for her; she was to use the song as an encore piece in her recitals and though it now and forever 'belongs' to Tony Bennett, she got it first. Also in 1954 Claramae sang the part of the fortune teller Ulrica in Verdi's "Un Ballo en Maschera", an NBC Symphony presentation that would prove to be the great Maestro Arturo Toscanini's final operatic performance. In 1956 she was Nettie Fowler in the silver screen version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel", an effort which required the makeup man to add a number of years to her appearance but which garnered her much praise for "You'll Never Walk Alone". Claramae created the role of Diana Orsini in the 1967 Opera Society of Washington world premiere of Alberto Ginastera's "Bomarzo", was an active concert artist, and sang other roles at a variety of American venues, among them Delilah of Saint-Saens' "Samson et Delilah" and Herodias from Richard Strauss' "Salome". Her farewell was a 1974 SFO performance in which she was the Marquise de Berkenfield of Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment"; following her retirement she lived out her days in the Bay Area, teaching at Stanford and serving as a competition judge. At her death from advanced age she could be heard on a number of recordings including the "Carousel" DVD, a preservation of Verdi's "Requiem", the Toscanini "Ballo", and a complete New Orleans performance of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 27 May 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111291066
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Claramae Turner (28 Oct 1920–18 May 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111291066, citing Ocean View Cemetery, Eureka, Humboldt County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .