Claramae Turner (née Haas, on October 28, 1920) is an American operatic contralto. She is perhaps best known for her appearance in the film Carousel, adapted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical of the same name.
Born in Dinuba, California, she made her official debut as the Mother in Les contes d'Hoffmann, at the San Francisco Opera, in 1945, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera from 1946 to 1950, appearing in Faust (as Marthe, opposite Raoul Jobin), Boris Godounov (as the Hôtesse, with Ezio Pinza), Aïda (as Amneris), Hänsel und Gretel (as Gertrud), Roméo et Juliette (as Gertrude, with Jussi Björling and Bidù Sayão), Le nozze di Figaro (as Marcellina), Siegfried (as Erda, with Lauritz Melchior and Astrid Varnay), Cavalleria rusticana (as Lucia), Il barbiere di Siviglia (as Berta, opposite Giuseppe Valdengo and Lily Pons), Peter Grimes (as Auntie), and Gianni Schicchi (as Zita).
Turner then sang with the New York City Opera from 1953 to 1969, in The Medium, Hänsel und Gretel (now as The Witch), Œdipus rex (as Jocasta, with Richard Cassilly, conducted by Leopold Stokowski), Suor Angelica (as the Zia Principessa, conducted by Julius Rudel), Carmen, Louise (as the Mère), The Ballad of Baby Doe (as Augusta, with Beverly Sills), Dialogues des Carmélites (as Madame de Croissy), and Bomarzo (as Diana Orsini, opposite Salvador Novoa, directed by Tito Capobianco).
She created the role of Madame Flora in Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium, in 1946, reprising it in an episode of Omnibus on television (conducted by Werner Torkanowsky, 1959). She also recorded the role of Ma Moss in Aaron Copland's The Tender Land (opposite Joy Clements and Norman Treigle, conducted by the composer, 1965), and Gertrud in an English version of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, starring Risë Stevens and Nadine Conner (1947). This performance was one of the first Metropolitan Opera record albums of a complete opera ever released (by Columbia Masterworks Records). Miss Turner reprised the role on television in an installment of "NBC Television Opera Theatre".
For radio, she sang the role of Ulrica in Arturo Toscanini's 1954 legendary Concert Version of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, co-starring Herva Nelli, Jan Peerce, and Robert Merrill, in the Maestro's final operatic appearance. This performance was later released on LP and CD by RCA Victor.
In 1956, Turner appeared in her only film, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel (with Shirley Jones), based on the successful stage musical. In the film, she played the role of Nettie Fowler.
She sang the role of Nettie again in a Command Records studio cast recording of Carousel, starring Alfred Drake and Roberta Peters, recorded in 1962. (This version has not yet been published on Compact Disc.)
The song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," was written for Turner, and it was she, not Tony Bennett, who originally sang it. However, it was Bennett who first recorded it.
Albums have recently been released of Turner in complete live recordings of Verdi's La forza del destino, starring Zinka Milanov, Mario del Monaco, and Leonard Warren, in a New Orleans performance conducted by Walter Herbert, and the Verdi Requiem, conducted by Guido Cantelli.
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