James McCracken

Biography

Born: December 16, 1926; Gary, IN   Died: April 29, 1988; New York, NY  
Heroic tenor James McCracken achieved international fame in the heaviest tenor repertory; unusually, he did this only after leaving the famed Metropolitan Opera, where he felt his career had stalled in comprimario roles. Taking leave of the Metropolitan in 1957, he was engaged at Bonn and steadily made his way forward singing dramatic roles; this trend eventually culminated in Otello, which served as his reintroduction to America in 1960 at the Read more Washington Opera. Unlike many heroic tenors, who often begin their careers as baritones, McCracken's voice was placed in the tenor range from the very beginning, and he took pride in the fact that he sang the high Cs in Il trovatore, eschewing the transposition that many spinto-weight singers take for granted. A singer of stupendous intensity, his vocal approach sounded highly pressurized, but his voice remained undiminished right to the time of his death at age 61. Clearly, as he himself insisted, he had been singing correctly; otherwise, his voice could not have remained fresh and secure in such a punishing repertory.

McCracken studied at Columbia University and sang on Broadway during that period. His principal voice teacher was Wellington Ezekiel. While his debut took place as Rodolfo in a 1952 production of La bohème in Central City, CO, his Metropolitan Opera contract kept him in an unending string of small roles. From his first Met performance as Parpignol (La Bohème) on November 21, 1953, he progressed little and, after four seasons, departed for Europe to pursue the repertory for which his large voice was suited. In Bonn, he sang Canio, Max (Der Freischütz), and Radames. His protagonist in Washington's 1960 production of Otello attracted worldwide attention. Later that year, he sang the role in Vienna and Zurich and returned triumphantly to the Metropolitan in 1963 as the jealous Moor. London heard his Otello in 1964 and thereafter, he continued to enjoy an active European career.

Counting those performance amassed as a minor singer in his first four seasons, McCracken sang more than 400 performances at the Metropolitan from 1963 on, always in the dramatic or heroic repertories. Among the Canios, Samsons, Manricos, Calafs, and appearances as Radames and Tannhäuser were two striking productions of exceptional interest. When Leonard Bernstein conducted Carmen with Marilyn Horne in 1972, McCracken was his José and the production was subsequently recorded. When Meyerbeer's sprawling Le prophète was revived in 1977 after decades of neglect, McCracken was assigned the title role, Jean de Leyde, in a cast including Horne, Renata Scotto, and Jerome Hines. While many felt in advance that the tenor's technical approach would be too strenuous, in fact he sang the role with both power and a good measure of elegance, employing falsetto for some soft, high-lying passages. This production, too, was recorded and has remained in the catalog ever since. McCracken spoke freely about his vocal technique. He insisted that, despite the explosive sound he produced, he attacked notes gently. During the decade before his death, he worked with Joyce McLaine in New York, noting that he had grown increasingly aware of keeping all the physical elements in alignment. Wisely, he limited his Wagner roles, realizing that these would pull down the center of his voice and cost him his spectacular top register. Together with his wife, mezzo soprano Sandra Warfield, McCracken sang numerous recitals, particularly during the latter part of his career. Read less

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Biography

Born: December 16, 1926; Gary, IN   Died: April 29, 1988; New York, NY  
Heroic tenor James McCracken achieved international fame in the heaviest tenor repertory; unusually, he did this only after leaving the famed Metropolitan Opera, where he felt his career had stalled in comprimario roles. Taking leave of the Metropolitan in 1957, he was engaged at Bonn and steadily made his way forward singing dramatic roles; this trend eventually culminated in Otello, which served as his reintroduction to America in 1960 at the Read more
WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
Era la notte - Sì, per ciel marmoreo giuro! (Otello, Act II)
Era la notte - Sì, per ciel marmoreo giuro! (Otello, Act II) (1994 Remastered Version)
1. Orchestral Prelude
2. Waldemar: Nun dämpft die Dämmerung
3. Tove: O, wenn des Mondes Strahlen
4. Waldemar: Ross! Mein Ross!
5. Tove: Sterne jubeln
6. Waldemar: So tanzen die Engel
7. Tove: Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal
8. Waldemar: Es ist Mitternachtszeit
9. Tove: Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick
10. Waldemar: Du wunderliche Tove!
11. Voice of the Wood-dove: Doves of Gurre
12. Waldemar: Herrgott, weisst du, was du tatest
13. Waldemar: Erwacht, König Waldemars Mannen wert!
14. Peasant: Deckel des Sarges Klappert
15. Waldemar's Men: Gegrüsst, o König
16. Waldemar: Mit Toves Stimme flüstert der Wald
17. Klaus the Jester: Ein seltsamer Vogel
18. Waldemar: Du strenger Richter
19. Waldemar's Men: Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf
20. Orchestral Prelude
21. Speaker: Herr Gänsefuss, Frau Gänsekraut
22. Mixed Chorus: Seht die Sonne
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Una vela! Una vela! Un vessillo! ... (Ciprioti/Montano/Cassio/Jago/Roderigo)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Esultate! (Otello/Ciprioti)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Roderigo, ebben che pensi? (Jago/Roderigo)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Fuoco di gioia! ... (Ciprioti)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Roderigo, beviam! (Jago/Cassio/Ciprioti/Roderigo)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Inaffia l'ugola! (Jago/Cassio/Roderigo)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Capitano, v'attende la fazione si baluardi (Montano/Cassio/Jago/Roderigo/Caprioti)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Abbasso le spade! (Otello/Jago/Cassio/Montano)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Gia nella notte densa ....
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Quando narravi ... Ed io vedea fra le tue tempie ... Venga la morte! (Otello/Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Non ti crucciar (Jago/Cassio)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Vanne; la tua metà già vedo (Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Credo in un Dio crudel (Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Eccola ... Cassio ... a te (Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Ciò m'accora ... Che parli? (Jago/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Dove guardi spendono raggi (Ciprioti/Jago/Donne/Fanciulli/Marinai/Desdemona/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quarta scena/Scene 4/Vierte Szene/Quatrième Scène: D'un uom che geme sotto il tuo disdegno (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quarta scena/Scene 4/Vierte Szene/Quatrième Scène: Se inconscia contro te, sposo ... (Desdemona/Otello/Jago/Emilia)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Desdemona rea! ... (Otello/Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Ora e per sempre addio (Otello/Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Era la notte ... (Jago/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO/ACT 2/ZWEITER AKT/PREMIERE ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro! (Otello/Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: La vedetta del porto ha segnalato ... (Araldo/Otello/Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Dio to giocondi lo sguardo tuo tremendo ... (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Esterrefatta fisso ... (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4 /Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Dio! mi potevi scagliar (Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Vieni, l'aula è deserta ... (Jago/Cassio/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Questa è una ragna (Jago/Cassio/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Sesta scena/Scene 6/Sechste Szene/Sixième Scène: Come la ucciderò? (Otello/Jago/Ciprioti)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Settima scena/Scene 7/Siebente Szene/Septième Scène: Viva! Evviva! Viva il Leon di San Marco! (Coro/Lodovico/Otello/Desdemona/Emilia/Jago)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Ottava e Nona scena/Scenes 8 & 9/Achte und Neunte Szene/Huitième et Neuvième Scènes: Messeri! Il Doge ... (Otello/Roderigo/Jago/Lodovico)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Ottava e Nona scena/Scenes 8 & 9/Achte und Neunte Szene/Huitième et Neuvième Scènes: A terra! ... sì ... nil livido fango ... (Desdemona/Emilia/Cassio/Roderigo/Lodovico/Jago/Otel
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE, Ottava e Nona scena/Scenes 8 & 9/Achte und Neunte Szene/Huitième et Neuvième Scènes: Fuggirmi io sol non so...Sangue! (Otello/Jago/Ciprioti)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Era più calmo? (Emilia/Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Mia madre aveva una povera ancella (Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Piangea cantando nell'erma landa ... (Emilia/Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Ave Maria, piena gi grazia ... (Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Chi è là? Otello? (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Aprite! Aprite! (Emilia/Otello/Desdemona)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Qual grida! Orror! Orror! (Cassio/Lodovico/Jago/Emilia/Montano/Otello)
Otello (1994 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO/ACT 4/VIERTER AKT/QUATRIEME ACTE, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Niun mi tema (Otello/Cassio/Lodovico/Montano)
Overture
Jetzt, Schätzchen...Der arme Jacquino dauert mich


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