Clarice Carson | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Clarice Carson

Clarice Carson (née Katz), soprano (born 23 December 1929 in Montréal, QC; died 2 May 2015 in Toronto, ON).

Clarice Carson (née Katz), soprano (born 23 December 1929 in Montréal, QC; died 2 May 2015 in Toronto, ON). One of Canada’s most prominent opera singers, Clarice Carson sang with the Metropolitan Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the CBC and many major companies in North America, South America and Europe. She shared the stage with such opera stars as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Louis Quilico and Léopold Simoneau, and worked with such leading conductors as Zubin Mehta, Eugene Ormandy, James Levine and Richard Bonynge, among many others. She was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame and was the first Canadian honoured with a commemorative plaque at the National Opera Center in New York.

Education and Early Career

Carson studied with Pauline Donalda and Jacqueline Richard in Montréal, and with Julia Drobner in New York. She made her public debut at a Sarah Fischer Concert in Montréal in 1956. Her first operatic roles were with the Opera Guild of Montréal: as the Lady-in-Waiting in Macbeth (1959), Micaëla in Carmen (1960), and Siebel in Faust (1963).

Career Highlights

She spent the 1965–66 season with the New York City Opera, where she made her debut as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, and a tour in 1966–67 with the Metropolitan Opera National Company, as the Countess, Violetta in La Traviata, and the Female Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. She then spent three seasons (1967–70) at the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut as Pamina in The Magic Flute. One of her most successful roles there was Musetta in La Bohème.

She frequently sang in the United States (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, San Francisco), Canada (Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, Québec City, Edmonton, Stratford) and Europe (Barcelona, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Rouen, Nice). She sang the title role in Tosca for CBC TV in 1970 with Louis Quilico as Scarpia, and for the Canadian Opera Company (COC) in 1972. She was also Elisabeth deValois in Don Carlos for the COC in 1977. She returned to the Metropolitan in 1975–76 to portray Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte.

Carson sang several leading roles for the Opéra du Québec: the title role in Suor Angelica and Giorgietta in Il Tabarro (1971), Desdemona in Otello (1973), and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and Alice Ford in Falstaff (1974). She appeared in New York in concert versions of such seldom heard operas as Berlioz' Les Troyens (1972) and Pfitzner's Palestrina (1973). Her bright lirico-spinto encompassed a wide repertoire ranging from Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio to Elsa in Lohengrin, Maddalena in Andrea Chenier, and the title roles in Aida, Salome, and Turandot.

Personal Life

Her husband, in a second marriage, was Philon Ktsanes, a Greek-American tenor and vocal coach. After retiring in 1986, she served as an active board member of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA), where she mentored many young singers.


Carson was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame at Place des Arts by Opéra de Montréal in 1998. In 2013, she became the first Canadian to receive a commemorative plaque acknowledging her career at the National Opera Center in New York. Carson donated her musical scores and recordings to IRCPA, which plans to open a reference library in her name in the fall of 2017.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Further Reading