The Contralto Arrives: Look, Watch, ListenPosted by Penny in Uncategorized
Dame Clara Butt (1872-1936) was an English contralto with a successful recital career on both sides of the Atlantic. Her physique (she was 6 feet 2 inches tall) and her technique gave her a booming voice that could be mistaken for a man’s in some recordings. She married a baritone, Kennerly Rumford, in 1900. The couple performed together in concerts. They also had three children, Joy, Roy, and Victor.
Dame Clara arrived in New York City with her children in the 1910s and was greeted by news cameras (as were many famous arrivals at the port). Here’s the Bain News Service photograph of the occasion:
Clara Butt and children, ca. 1910 to 1915
Library of Congress: ggbain 16086
Okay, family photo, not great art; one of the kids is grimacing, as kids will do. But here’s the cool part: British Pathé film cameras were also present at the occasion. Here’s video of the newsreel they made, showing nearly the same moment. If you ever wished you could see some of the Flickr Commons historical images “in action,” this is a case where you can.
And as long as you’re looking at and watching Dame Clara Butt, here’s audio, in case you want to hear her, too.