Clara Butt

Clara Butt

English opera singer, contralto
Date of Birth: 01.02.1872
Country: Great Britain

  1. Clara Butt - Biography
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Professional Career
  4. Success and Reputation
  5. Later Life and Legacy

Clara Butt - Biography

Clara Butt was an English opera singer and contralto known for her powerful and impressive voice, as well as her incredible endurance. She performed both as a soloist and in major concerts.

Clara Butt

Early Life and Education

Clara Butt was born in Southwick, Sussex to Henry Albert Butt, a seaman. In 1880, her family moved to the port city of Bristol, where her unique singing talent was discovered by her teachers at the local school. She received vocal training from the renowned bass Daniel Rootham, who was also the director of the Bristol Festival Choir.

Clara Butt

Professional Career

In January 1890, Clara won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. During her fourth year of studies, she went on a three-month internship in Paris, funded by the royal treasury. She also spent some time in Berlin and Italy. Clara made her stage debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London on December 7, 1892, performing in Arthur Sullivan's cantata "The Golden Legend." Just three days later, she sang the role of Orfeo in Christoph Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice." Her performances received positive reviews from critics.

Clara continued her vocal training in Paris under Jacques Bouhy, who had also taught Louise Homer and Louise Kirkby Lunn. She further honed her skills in Berlin with the renowned soprano Etelka Gerster. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, who heard Clara sing, wanted to cast her in his opera "Dalila," but biblical characters were prohibited from being portrayed on the British stage at that time.

Success and Reputation

Clara soon earned a respectable reputation in England. Her impressive height of 6 feet 2 inches, along with her exceptional singing abilities, made her stand out among her peers. She frequently made gramophone recordings, with one of her most famous being Arthur Sullivan's song "The Lost Chord."

In 1900, Clara married opera singer Kennerly Rumford, a baritone. They often performed together in concerts. The couple had three children, two sons, and a daughter. Clara continued to perform at major international festivals and concerts, even having the honor of performing before Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and George V. She embarked on concert tours to Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, as well as traveling extensively in Europe.

Later Life and Legacy

During World War I, Clara organized a series of charity concerts for the military, earning her the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. However, after the war, she faced a series of personal tragedies. Her elder son passed away from meningitis, followed by the death of her younger son. Clara herself began to experience serious health problems, including spinal cancer. Despite her declining health, she continued to make recordings while sitting in a wheelchair.

In 1936, at the age of 63, Clara Butt passed away at her home in North Stoke, Oxfordshire. She left behind a remarkable legacy as one of England's most renowned opera singers, known for her exceptional voice, endurance, and charitable contributions.