Headshot of La Cieca

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Claramae Turner 1920-2012

The American contralto, who created the title role in Menotti’s The Medium and introduced the song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” died May 18. She was 92. [New York Times]

29 comments

  • damekenneth says:

    My favorite ever Nettie Fowler.

    • Phoenicia Pomegranate says:

      My favorite Nettie Fowler, too. Inimitable. Besides the movie soundtrack, she is on the 1962 Command recording of Carousel with Alfred Drake, Roberta Peters, Norman Treigle, Lee Venora, and Jon Crain. I first heard her on a broadcast of the Verdi Requiem with the St. Louis Symphony. She was wonderful.

      • Camille says:

        What a line-up of a cast—assume that Peters is the Carrie, Treigle is the Jogger, Venora the Julie, Drake the Billy—? That would be interesting to listen to. Thanks, didn’t know about this recording.

  • RosinaLeckermaul says:

    The first opera album I ever owned (on 78s!!) was the Met recording of Hansel and Gretel in English with Rise Stevens and Nadine Connor. Claramae Turner was Gertrude.

  • Orlando Furioso says:

    It’s hard to imagine a movie musical these days casually casting Claramae Turner and Robert Rounseville among the supporting characters. She was my childhood introduction to a real contralto sound.

  • zinka says:

    You mean 2013…no??????

  • The_Kid says:

    We mentioned her when we were talking about ‘The Medium’, and then in the Carousel thread. So sorry to hear that she isn’t with us any longer. RIP.

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    How it’s done. From the Ed Sullivan show:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JctsTcnM4hU

    Stark contrast:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2L_BQ666pk

    • makehayfarm says:

      Thanks, Nerva. Sometimes we forget.

    • Phoenicia Pomegranate says:

      Stark contrast indeed. Disgusting is more like it. Turner: sincerity and grace personified. Fleming: affectation from the first note, then it gets worse.

      • Simon Blackmouth says:

        Agreed. I had to stop watching after about 5 seconds of Fleming’s performance.

  • Camille says:

    I believe Miss Turner was Ulrica on the Toscanini Ballo in Maschera, among many other accomplishments.
    MAH!
    Look at this! Never suspected that this was out there!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9gVPlmcygE&sns=em

    • CruzSF says:

      Chilling, Camille. Thank you for introducing me to this work.

    • Nerva Nelli says:

      Yes, she was (since that great soprano Teresa Stich-Randall and Nan Merriman have left us recently) perhaps the last of Toscanini’s recorded leads still with us, save of course for his Mimi and Violetta, Licia Albanese. Does anyone have any idea about Virginia Haskins, his Oscar?

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Brava Nerva, if Stich-Randall was good enough for Toscanini, Karajan and Legge, I think those are three men who knew voices even if both conductors did sometimes have some questionable sopranos. But our own sage of course tells us otherwise.

    • Batty Masetto says:

      Thank you for finding this, Camille -- I got all intrigued with Bomarzo years ago and then got sidetracked before I’d heard any because there didn’t seem to be a recording. This is very interesting stuff. Two more scenes are available, also with the terrific Claramae:

      And she’s not too shabby as The Medium, either:

      • Camille says:

        OY, there is that photo of me in the morning again!!

        Hey there, elders of parterre~~~whatever happened to the Ginastera BOOM of the sixties???

        I remember so well the first time I ever saw Señor Domingo — a picture of his triumph at the site of the old home of New York City Opera in what —- Don Rodrigo, wasn’t it? I listened a bit just now to his grooooooovy first piano concerto and it truly was of a certain period, even if written sometime well before the sixties.

        Well, I am just curious that’s all. I did check out Beatrix de Cenci once from New York Performing Arts Library (NYPAL, my best pal!), and really tried very hard to get into it, partially out of solidarity for Beatrice, as I used to live right across the street from where she is buries in Rome, and once was at a social affair and dance in her palazzo on the Tevere. Yes, really. No shite. It was glorious!

        Anyway, it was a very, very BIG vogue for quite some long time. Oh, and yes, there was also Joanna Simon, the sister of Carly, who made quite some splash in one of Ginastera’s operas, Bomarzo, ah do believe.

        Interesting to watch the waves and currents and fortunes of these musical creations and their respective creators. Think of Ludwig Spohr, Beethoven’s big competitor!!! A big chortle for everyone these days, but not in the good old days.

        Pace.

    • mjmacmtenor says:

      Yes, she most certainly WAS that Ulrica!

  • mjmacmtenor says:

    Although there is no record of her singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” (which was written for her), here is an example of her way with a “pop” song.

  • Batty Masetto says:

    Nettie Fowler has already come up, but I haven’t seen any mention of how expertly she could deliver a musical punch line. (You might have to stop watching the boys for a few minutes.)

    (Seasonally appropriate material)

    • armerjacquino says:

      *Leslie Uggams placeholder*

    • Camille says:

      You might be good enough to bring along some seasonally appropriate aperitifs from Genevieve’s RR, some oysters on half shell, mebbe, to accompany this number Master Chef Batty, please.

      • Batty Masetto says:

        Ma belle Camille, you may not know that aside from what’s supplied by her crazy brother-in-law in Florida, Genevieve’s is something of a locavore establishment. (Source is usually the nearby woods and pastures, or sometimes even the surface of Hiway 13 itself; we may all tremble to think what will happen if Genevieve discovers “locavore” is an actual thing.)

        As her location is more than a hundred miles from the coast, seafood has generally not been on her radar. Meno male.

        But they tell me she has been talking lately with crazy Larry in Sarasota about some kind of seafood platter in the near future. That should keep us in nightmares for a while.

        • Camille says:

          Batty dear—in what capacity do you work for GRR??

          If you are a trusted advisor, perhaps you should lean heavily upon Genny to just “Stay Local”, as too many small establishments get Big Ideas after a modicum of success and, well frankly, they trip down a primrose path to perdition and it ain’t never as good nor the same ever again.

          Stick with the local angle and the roadkill. What with the lapdances and all, those patrons are goin’ to be so hopped up they won’t know what they have just done et.

          Caviar dreams and truffled droppings jest don’ belong on Hiway 13, chile.

          Jest plain Cam

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Camille, I am but a well-wisher and friend of the family. As you may have guessed, Genevieve has a mind of her own and is not about to be swayed by advice, threats, pleas, or indeed even screams of pain.

            Luckily, as Croche has already pointed out, her only real competition in the region is Christoph’s Chikken Shak and Tattoo Parlor. (Croche is a far more adventurous diner than I am – I wouldn’t be caught dead in that joint!) So far her clientele has been pretty loyal wherever she may lead them.

          • Camille says:

            Oh, very well then. She sounds as stubborn as yours truly, so no need to try to change her.

            I certainly hope you are only familiar with rhe establishment for the floor shows and don’t actually eat them vittles!

            She oughta bring back the armadilloes though—don’t mess with success, Genny.