|John McCormack |
A world famous Irish tenor and recording artist, celebrated for his performances of the operatic and popular song repertoires, and renowned for his diction and breath control. He was also a Papal Count.
John Francis McCormack was born in Athlone, Ireland, the fourth of eleven children of Andrew McCormack and Hannah Watson on 14 June 1884, and was baptised in St. Mary's Church, Athlone on 23 June 1884.
In 1903 he won the coveted gold medal in the Dublin Feis Ceoil and it was this event which set him on his climb to success.
In March 1904, McCormack became associated with James Joyce, who at the time had singing ambitions himself. Richard Ellmann, in his biography of Joyce, states that, "Joyce spent several evenings with him" .
In 1906 he made his operatic début at the Teatro Chiabrera, Savona. The following year he undertook his first important operatic appearance at Covent Garden in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, becoming the theatre's youngest principal tenor.
By 1912 he began to turn his attention increasingly to the concert stage, where his voice quality and charisma ensured that he became the most celebrated lyric tenor of his day. He did not, however, retire from the operatic stage until 1923 in Monte Carlo.
McCormack made hundreds of recordings, the first on phonograph cylinder in 1904. His most commercially successful series of records were those for the Victor Talking Machine Company in the 1910s and 1920s.
In 1917 McCormack became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
By now his career was a huge financial success, earning millions in his lifetime from record sales and appearances, though he never was invited to sing at La Scala in Milan.
After his farewell tour of America in 1937, the McCormacks deeded the estate back to Carman Runyon expecting to return to the estate at a later date.
McCormack originally ended his career at the Royal Albert Hall in London, in 1938.
He did concerts, toured, broadcast and recorded in this capacity until 1943, when failing health finally forced him to retire permanently. Ill with emphysema, he bought a house near the sea, "Glena", Booterstown, Dublin.
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