Obituary: James McCray Dies At 79

By Francisco Salazar

American Tenor James McCray has died at the age of 79.

Born in Ohio, the tenor served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War before entering the Mannes School of Music in New York City and eventually went on to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

He went on to perform with the Concert Opera Association at Philharmonic Hall in NYC, singing Chekalinsky in “The Queen of Spades,” and Francesco in the US premiere of Hector Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini.”

From 1965-1968 he became an active member of the Israel National Opera and in 1969 he made his New York City Opera debut. He would go on to perform such roles as Canio in “Pagliacci,” Cavaradossi in “Tosca,” Don José in “Carmen,” Manrico in “Il Trovatore,” Riccardo in “Un Ballo in Maschera,” and Samson in “Samson et Dalila.” Other roles included Vladimir Igorevich in “Prince Igor,” the title role of “Otello,” Erik in “The Flying Dutchman,” Siegfried in The Ring Cycle. He also created the role of Ken in the world premiere of Harold Farberman’s “The Losers.”

After retiring, McCray went on to teach in The Hague, Netherlands at the McCray International Studio for Vocal Arts. Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and her husband Frank van Aken were among his students.