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Butt, Dame Clara

Butt, Dame Clara (1872–1936). English contralto, who studied with Daniel Rootham and at the Royal College of Music with J. H. Blower. Her first major success was as Orpheus in Gluck's opera at the Royal College in 1892, a role she recreated in 1920 at Covent Garden under Beecham, the year in which she was made DBE for wartime services to charity. Her career, however, centred on the concert platform, where her tall, imposing figure was matched by a powerful voice with a strident lower register. She was particularly associated with the music of Elgar, singing the première of his Sea Pictures (Norwich, 1899), conducted by the composer, in a dress reminiscent of a mermaid.

Eric Cross

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