|Year of Birth:||1926|
|Year of Death:||1988|
James McCracken (December 16, 1926 – April 29, 1988) was an American operatic tenor. At the time of his death The New York Times stated that McCracken was "the most successful dramatic tenor yet produced by the United States and a pillar of the Metropolitan Opera during the 1960s and 1970s."
Born in Gary, Indiana, McCracken's earliest musical experiences were singing in his church choir as a child. While he was in the US Navy during World War II, and sang in the Blue Jacket Choir. He studied music at Columbia University and with Elsa Seyfert in Konstanz, Germany, and then with Joyce McLean in New York City until his death.
McCracken made his professional opera debut in 1952 with the Central City Opera in Colorado as Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème. He sang minor roles at the Metropolitan Opera from 1953 to 1957, while he was still a student. In 1957, he moved to Europe and made his debut at the Vienna State Opera. He had great success with the Zürich Opera.
The role of Otello in Verdi's opera, Otello, was one of his signature roles. Starting in 1963, he became one of the Met's principal dramatic tenors. He replaced an injured Mario Del Monaco at The Royal Opera House in London on very short noticeon 11 April 1964, a performance which was acclaimed by the critics, including Philip Hope-Wallace of The Guardian who described it as: "the audience know at once that this was the voice for the part: large, inclined to perhaps splay a little, but sonorous, the emanation of the true Otello..."James McCracken also starred in Otello and Carmen in 1972; in Aida directed by John Dexter in 1976; in Le prophete in 1977; and in Tannhauser in 1978, his only leading Wagnerian role.