Clara Butt

Even though Dame Clara Butt engaged in operatic performances at venues such as Covent Garden, her fame was founded in her appearances on the concert stage as well as at festivals. Celebrated for her sturdy and broad lower range, she achieved musical success in Britain quickly after she completed her academic studies. She went on to lead a charmed life, eventually marrying and touring with the prominent baritone Kennerley Rumford. In Bristol, Butt began her early studies with Daniel Rootham, who helped her prepare for admission as a scholarship student to the Royal College of Music. After gracing audiences with her fine stage presence at her debut at the Royal Albert Hall in Sullivan's Golden Legend in 1892, she accepted frequent requests to perform at festivals and then went to Paris to receive further instruction from the Belgian baritone Jacques Joseph André Bouhy and the Hungarian operatic soprano Etelka Berster. Rumford was also studying in France's capital at that time. After being wed in 1900, Butt continued to perform, touring the United States and giving joint recitals with her husband. In addition to singing together, the two were also active in war efforts; Rumford served in the British Military Intelligence Department and Butt assisted with charities, which established grounds for her exaltation as Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1920. That same year, she was seen under Sir Thomas Beecham's direction in Gluck's Orpheus at Covent Garden, where her former teacher Bouhy began singing in the late 1880s and where Etelka Berster made one of her final professional appearances in the spring of 1890. Despite having concluded her career in the early part of the twentieth century, Butt can be heard on several recordings, including ASV's Twenty Gramophone Alltime Greats, Pearl's Covent Garden on Record, and EMI's Centenary Collection (1897 - 1997). She died days before reaching her 64th birthday and was outlived by her husband.

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