Jon Vickers 1926-2015
On July 10, 2015 the legendary Canadian tenor Jon Vickers died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88 years old. Although he had been retired for many years, his legacy of uniquely dramatically and musically intense performances in a wide variety of roles in virtually of the world’s major opera houses made him cherished by several generations of opera lovers.
Most of his major roles have also been preserved on CD or DVD.
While he was particularly celebrated for his Wagnerian roles such as Tristan, Siegmund and Parsifal, his interpretations of the leading Italian and French heroic tenor roles such as Don Jose, Canio, Aeneas, Otello and Radames were also greatly admired. Particularly controversial was his interpretation of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes – one explicitly disavowed by the composer but quite likely responsible for that opera’s continued success and visibility over the past five decades.
Vickers was unique not only for his riveting physical acting (see in particular his Met performance of Otello co-starring a truly terrified Renata Scotto) but his expressivness with the text. Although large, his immediately recognizable voice also had a incredible ability to convey human suffering and pain – whether that of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan in Fidelio, the despised and rejected Peter Grimes or the betrayed Canio in Pagliacci. At the same time, its heroic qualities were evident not just in Wagner but as Otello, Aeneas in Les Troyens and even in much of the oratorio repertoire – such as his widely acclaimed recording of Handel’s Messiah conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.
Tamino Autographs is proud to salute the legacy of the great tenor Jon Vickers.