Monday, 13 July 2015

Jon Vickers 1926-2015

Canadian tenor Jon Vickers died a few days ago on July 10 at the age of 88. He was one of the foremost dramatic operatic tenors of his time. In my opinion, he was simply the greatest. Vickers had a powerful, big, dark and dramatic voice. Not only did he have a great voice, but he was also a great actor, with deeply intelligent, psychological and passionate characterisations.

Vickers famously had a strong and uncompromising artistic temperament. He expected the best from himself, but also from others, which often meant conflict. His devout Christianity could also cause frictions. For example, he rejected singing the role of Tannhäuser in part due to perceiving the work as anti-Christian.

He excelled in Wagnerian heldentenor roles, especially Siegmund and Tristan. He recorded both roles with Herbert Von Karajan. 

Outside of Wagner, he did other dramatic tenor roles like Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio, (which he recorded with Otto Klemperer), Britten's Peter Grimes and Verdi's Otello. He also did some non-operatic parts, most famously the tenor part in Händel's Messiah, in the famous recording conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.
"Ein Schwert verhiess mir der vater" from Wagner's Die Walküre. Conductor: Erich Leinsdorf
"Ev´ry valley shall be exalted" From Händel's Messiah. Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham

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