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John McCormack
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    (June 14, 1884-September 16, 1945)
    Born in Athlone, Ireland
    Notable opera performances included 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' 'Rigoletto,' 'La Boheme' and 'Don Giovanni'
    Performed at Convent Garden in London (1907-14)
    Made his last appearance in an opera at Monte Carlo (March 25, 1923)
    Staged concerts performing arias, lieder, Irish folk songs, and popular ballads
    Recorded 'The Wearing of the Green,' 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary,' 'Keep the Home Fires Burning,''The Minstrel Boy,' 'I Hear You Calling Me' and 'The Last Rose of Summer'
    Appeared in the films 'Song o' My Heart' (1930) and 'Wings of the Morning' (1937)
    His parents had wanted him to be a priest.
    He admitted he had never even heard an opera before he decided on a singing career.
    When he made his opera debut in Italy, he performed under the name Giovanni Foli (1906).
    He owned 13 Rolls-Royces.
    He realized he could make a career of singing after he entered the Dublin Feis Ceoli (Festival of Music) and won the gold medal in the tenor division (1903).
    He was known for his incredible breath control, such as performing a 64-note passage in 'Don Giovanni' on one breath.
    He was named a Papal Count by Pope Pius XI for his fundraising on behalf of Catholic charities (1928).
    He came out of retirement during WWII to hold benefits for the Red Cross and entertain the troops.
    'Time' noted, 'Almost everybody who owned a talking machine in the days of World War I was sure to have Caruso's 'Pagliacci' and John McCormick's 'Mother Machree.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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