(December 16, 1926 – April 29, 1988)
James McCracken was an American operatic tenor feted as "the most successful dramatic tenor the USA ever produced.
He was the tenor mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York during the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1952 he made his professional opera debut with the Central City Opera in Colorado singing Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème.
From 1953 to 1957 he sang minor roles at the Metropolitan before moving to Europe where he made his debut with the Vienna State Opera and enjoyed great success with the Zürich Opera.
Otello quickly became one of his signature roles. In 1963 James McCracken became one of the Met's principal dramatic tenors and new productions were centred around him- principally Otello (1963 and 1972), Carmen (1972), Aida (1976), Le Prophete (1977) and Tannhaeuser (1978).
He felt slighted by being passed over for a telcast of Otello in 1978 and walked out on the Met but returned to a rousing ovation at the Centennial Gala in October 1983 when he sang Otello's Act 3 soliloquy.
The next season he was invited to sing Radames for the live telecast farewell performance of Leontyne Price in Aida. In every sense it was an historic performance.
Married to the mezzo-soprano Sandra Warfield, the two starred in Saint-Saëns' "Samson and Delilah," at the Met. Only two weeks before his death he returned to the Met to sing Canio in I Pagliacci.
Passing away at only 61 years of age he left behind some memorable recordings..."Le Prophète" (with Marilyn Horne and Renata Scotto) "Carmen" (conducted by Leonard Bernstein), "Fidelio" (with Birgit Nilsson), "Otello" (with Dame Gwyneth Jones) and "I Pagliacci" (in 1967), as well as Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder (with Jessye Norman, Tatiana Troyanos and David Arnold, recorded in 1979).