John McCormack Double-Bill at the IFI

The IFI’s Irish Film Archive is marking the 125th anniversary of one of Ireland’s most celebrated musicians, John McCormack. The lyric tenor was one of the finest of the 20th century and in his prime was undoubtedly an international superstar. The Irish Film Archive will present two films that offer rare cinematic glimpses of McCormack; one an authoritative documentary tracing his life story and the other a 1930 feature and McCormack’s talking picture debut.

John McCormack: The People’s Tenor, by Martin Dwan, draws on the expertise of McCormack’s biographer, Gordon Ledbetter, who narrates. This illuminating documentary features a wealth of interviews, archive film and photographs that tell the story of McCormack’s rise to global fame from Athlone, through to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Papal Honours, lucrative concert tours until his death in Dublin at the age of 61 as an icon of the age.

In 1930, McCormack was paid $500,000 (an enormous sum at the time) to appear in his first talking Picture Song O’ My Heart. This nostalgic drama follows a disconsolate concert singer retiring to rural Ireland. The unexpected return of his childhood sweetheart, whom he then tragically loses again, inspires him to come out of retirement for one last time in a concert film that delighted McCormack’s millions of fans.

The John McCormack Double-Bill will be screened on Sunday, 14th June 2009 at 1 pm. For further information, or to book tickets, please visit