Jon Vickers

Джон Викерс /Vickers Jon / (1926) - певец (тенор).

Jon Vickers (still active on stage as the narrator in performances of Richard Strauss" setting of Enoch Arden, and a strikingly handsome figure in his 70"s) was an anomaly as an operatic tenor. Criticized by some as being "fussy" or "idiosyncratic," no one would doubt that the term "artist" was as valid and accurate a label for him as the word "singer." He has consistently been an exact opposite of Anna Russell"s famous description of tenors "having resonance where their brains should be."

Born in 1926 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, he fully intended to pursue a career in business until he was 22, singing in choirs and amateur musicals as a hobby. He was persuaded to study singing seriously by a fellow singer and he won a three-year scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He steadily built his career in Canada until his big break came in the form of an audition for Sir David Webster of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London in 1956. After a debut as Riccardo in Verdi"s Un Ballo in Maschera, he hit the big time by tackling two of the most challenging roles in the entire repertoire during his first year there (1957): Aeneas in Berlioz"s Les Troyens and the title role in Verdi"s Don Carlo. Thought of as primarily an "Italian tenor" in Europe, he was guided more into the German repertoire as a result of his association with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, largely because the director, Sir Rudolf Bing, felt adequately covered in the Italian repertoire with singers such as Corelli and Tucker, whereas the German repertoire was seriously lacking an exponent. He continued to sing the "big" roles - Otello, Samson (both Handel"s and Saint-Saens"), Peter Grimes, Tristan, Florestan, Parsifal, Siegmund - until he gradually wound down his career as a singer in the later 1980"s.

Onstage, Vickers was a singular and impressive presence. Although not unusually tall, his chiseled features and muscular physique as well as his consistent focus and intensity created a commanding impression. His was a "big voice." It was unique - some (myself included) found it lustrously beautiful, whereas others had difficulty enjoying it as pure sound because his timbre was so different from that of the "typical" tenor. His dynamic range was unequalled - from fortissimo lion roars to shimmering pianissimi that never lost their point or carrying power. He could produce weighty sounds in the passagio area (E-G) such as to give the impression of being a dramatic baritone, and then surprise one with the pure and heady high notes of a lyric tenor. I recall one season in San Francisco in 1976, in which his voice sounded absolutely "right" in the roles of both Siegmund and Peter Grimes - two opposite extremes in terms of their tessitura and overall demands. Right up to the end of his career, the sound remained rock-steady with no trace of a waver or wobble.

His interpretations were characterized by a rare thoroughness - every move, detail of expression and shape of phrase having been carefully worked into an integrated whole - as could be compared with very few other singers. Maria Callas, Janet Baker and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau come to mind in this regard - and, frankly, no other tenors of this caliber of voice. He had a particular gift for conveying the inner conflicts and agonies of passionate, introverted and often socially isolated characters such as Peter Grimes, Tristan, Otello, Siegmund and Florestan. That wasn"t the whole picture, however, as proven by his delightful comic turn as Vasek in Smetana"s The Bartered Bride at the Metropolitan.

Always leading with the intellect and often brutally honest, Vickers has always been extremely outspoken and critical of the "hype" aspects of the opera world, hurling pointed criticism at the exaggerations spawned by publicity machines. One can only imagine the scathing comments he most likely makes in private about the "Three Tenor" media events.

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Great Tenor Performances (DVD-NTSC)

Great Tenor Performances (DVD-NTSC)

A glittering collection of favorite arias sung by the world's greatest tenors including Luciano Pava..

$19.99

Jon Vickers - "Four Operatic Portraits" (DVD-NTSC)

Jon Vickers - "Four Operatic Portraits" (DVD-NTSC)

4219Gala performance from the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, from the video archives of the CBC, Toro..

$34.99

The Art of Karl Bohm (DVD-NTSC)

The Art of Karl Bohm (DVD-NTSC)

The DVD is featured by original recording of the performance and NOT digitally re-mastered..

$34.99

Wagner - Tristan and Isolda - Decker (DVD-NTSC)

Wagner - Tristan and Isolda - Decker (DVD-NTSC)

Wagner - Tristan and Isolda - Decker - 40341 -..

$34.99

Great Stars of Opera - Telecasts From The Bell Telephone Hour, 1959-1966 (DVD-NTSC)

Great Stars of Opera - Telecasts From The Bell Telephone Hour, 1959-1966 (DVD-NTSC)

The DVD is featured by original recording of the performance and NOT digitally re-masteredGreat Star..

$34.99

Bellini - Norma - Montserrat Caballe (DVD-NTSC)

Bellini - Norma - Montserrat Caballe (DVD-NTSC)

The DVD is featured by original recording of the ballet and NOT digitally re-masteredNORMA Opera in ..

$34.99

Tristan and Isolda (DVD-PAL)

Tristan and Isolda (DVD-PAL)

Regia Teatrale-Nikolaus LehnoffRegia-Pierre JourdanTristano-Jon VickersIsotta-Birgitt NilssonBrangan..

$59.99

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