Canadian soprano Clarice Carson dies in Toronto

Clarice Carson : b. Montreal December 23, 1929 – d. Toronto May 2, 2015

Release: Toronto, Sunday, May 3, 2015

Clarice Carson
Clarice Carson – Click to enlarge

Clarice Carson, one of Canada’s iconic vocal artists, died yesterday in her 86th year surrounded by her family. A resident of Toronto for the past 27 years, Carson enjoyed being with her family, her brother, the late Allen Katz, son attorney Neil Ornstein and Lisa, daughter Dr. Melanie Ornstein and Douglas, their families, including three grandchildren, Erin, Rachel and Ben, and cousin Sheila Singer.

One of Canada’s most prominent opera singers, she retired from performance in 1986 after many years with the Metropolitan Opera, Scottish Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Netherlands Opera, La Fenice in Venice, and Teatro Regio in Torino, as well as companies in Frankfurt, Barcelona, Houston, San Francisco, Quebec and Vancouver; L’Opéra de Montreal, the Canadian Opera Company, and companies in Latin America among others.

Clarice Carson as Violetta
Clarice Carson as Violetta – Click to enlarge

Her colleagues included many of the greatest names in opera: Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Louis Quilico, Franco Corelli, Renata Tebaldi, Cornell MacNeil, George Shirley, Richard Tucker and Léopold Simoneau; and conductors Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, James Levine, Karel Ancerl, Richard Bonynge, Sir Charles MacKerras and Daniel Barenboim.

A native of Montreal, Ms Carson sang her first operatic roles in 1959, and performed many performances with L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and the McGill Chamber Orchestra. During the 1965-66 season, she made her New York debut at the New York City Opera; the following season she toured with the Metropolitan Opera National Company and made her debut with the Metropolitan in New York. She is remembered for her title role in Tosca for Radio-Canada television in 1970 with Louis Quilico as Scarpia. Her other roles included Aida, Suor Angelica, Madame Lidoine (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Desdemona (Otello with Jon Vickers), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), Violetta (La Traviata), Mimi and Musetta (La Bohème), Senta (The Flying Dutchman), Elisabeth (Tannhauser), Salome, and Leonora (in both Il Trovatore and La Forza del Destino).

The Montreal press said of her, “Clarice Carson has shown herself to be an artist blessed with exceptional talent and a magnificent soprano voice which permitted her to take on a wide variety of roles.”

In December 1998, Miss Carson was inducted in The Opera Hall of Fame at Place des Arts by L’Opéra de Montréal. In her acceptance speech, Carson thanked them for their recognition and congratulated L’Opéra de Montréal for making admirable efforts to engage many of our splendid Canadian singers and hoped this policy would continue. “Per capita, Canada has produced more great international opera singers than many other countries.”

In 2013 Ms. Carson was honoured at the National Opera America Center in New York with a commemorative plaque acknowledging her brilliant career, which spanned North and South America and Europe.

Ms. Carson was an active member of the Board of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists, for which, with her vast stage experience, she often gave wardrobe consultations to young artists, mentored singers and acted as consultant for their careers. Clarice donated her musical scores and recordings to the IRCPA reference library planned to open in her name in the fall of 2017. Canadian Donations for this library can be made directly through Canada Helps. American friends may donate and receive an American tax receipt through the Council for Canadian American Relations in New York City. Contact Jessica London, Executive Director: jlondon@ccar-nyc.org; Ph: (212) 935-0231.

In her final days, Ms. Carson was visited by longtime Metropolitan Opera colleagues mezzo-soprano Louise Pearl Greenwald, soprano Judith Haddon and coach/prompter Joan Dornemann, who travelled from the United States to see her; and by her colleague, soprano Lois McDonall, friend Sheila Rose and manager, Ann Summers Dossena, all of Toronto.

N.B. Photos will be available for download this week.

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