Jonathan Stewart Vickers, (October 29, 1926 – July 10, 2015), known professionally as CC Jon Vickers, was a Canadian heldentenor.
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, he was the sixth in a family of eight children. In 1950, he was awarded a scholarship to study OPERA at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. In 1957 Vickers joined London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden company. In 1960 he joined the Metropolitan Opera. He became world famous for a wide range of German, French and Italian roles. Vickers' huge, powerful voice and solid technique met the demands of many French, German and Italian roles. He was also highly regarded for his powerful stage presence and thoughtful characterizations. ] [1
In 1968 he was made a Companion of the
Order of Canada. Vickers received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts, in 1998. ] [2
Vickers studied with
George Lambert at The Royal Conservatory of Music ] and sang professionally in Canada from the early- to mid-1950s. His international career began with his 1957 [3 Covent Garden Riccardo in Verdi's . He continued to appear there into the 1980s, putting his personal stamp on the roles of Énée in Un ballo in maschera Berlioz's , Radamès in Verdi's Les Troyens and the Aida TITLE role in his , Don Carlos Handel's , Florestan in Samson Beethoven's , Tristan in Fidelio Wagner's , Canio in Tristan und Isolde Leoncavallo's , and the Pagliacci TITLE role in Britten's . Peter Grimes ] Some critics praised Vickers' Tristan as the best since [4 Lauritz Melchior's. ] [5
He debuted at the
Bayreuth Festival in 1958 as Siegmund in and sang Die Walküre there in 1964. Parsifal ] Later negotiations with [3 Wieland Wagnerconcerning appearances as Siegfried in ceased on Wieland's death in 1966. His debut role at the Götterdämmerung Metropolitan Opera in 1960 was Canio in Pagliacci. ] He appeared at the Met for 22 seasons in 280 performances of 17 roles, including Florestan in [6 Fidelio, Siegmund in Wagner's , Don Jose in Die Walküre Bizet's , Radamès in Carmen Aida, Erik in Wagner's , Herman in Der fliegende Holländer Tchaikovsky's , Samson in both Handel's Queen of Spades OPERA and Saint-Saëns' , the Samson et Dalila TITLE role of Verdi's , Don Alvaro in Verdi's Otello , La forza del destino Peter Grimes, , Laca in Tristan und Isolde Janáček's , Vasek in Jenůfa Smetana's , and the The Bartered Bride TITLE role in Wagner's , giving his farewell in 1987. Parsifal ] [6
Among Vickers' more notable recordings were
, singing the part of Énée (Aeneas), with Les Troyens Sir Colin Davis in 1978, ] [7 ] [8 ] and a legendary and controversial 1958 recording of Handel's [9 with Sir Messiah Thomas Beecham. ] [9 ] [10 ] [11
Although scheduled to sing
Tannhäuser at Covent Garden in the late 1970s, Vickers dropped out, claiming he could not empathize with the character, ] and that the [12 OPERA itself was blasphemous in nature. ] [4 ] He sang Nerone in Monteverdi's [13 at the Paris Opéra, and Alvaro in L'incoronazione di Poppea La forza del destino at the Met (1975). His roles also included Don Carlos, Andrea Chenier, Herod in , Giasone in Salome (with Medea Maria Callas in the title role), Pollione in Norma ] and rarely heard parts such as Cellini in Berlioz's [9 , Benvenuto Cellini ] Ratan-Sen in [14 Roussel's Padmavati and Sergei in Shostakovitch's . Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District ] Many critics praised his interpretation of Verdi's [8 , Otello ] which he recorded twice: in 1960 with [15 Tullio Serafin and 1973 with Herbert von Karajan. Vickers also was a long time collaborator with American pianist Richard Woitach. ] [16 ] [17
Vickers further sang at the 'home' of Italian opera, Milan's
La Scala, as well as in the major opera houses of Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, and at the Salzburg Festival. He retired in 1988. ] [18
Personal life and death Edit
Vickers was born into the musical family of William, a teacher, and Myrle (nee Mossop). As a youth he sang in his father's church and his initial intention was to study medicine. He worked on a neighbour's farm and acquired the muscular stature that characterized him. During a semi-professional production his leading lady made a recording of his voice and sent it to The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He auditioned there with
Every Valley Shall be Exaltedand with the offer of a scholarship his musical career was born. ] In 1953 he married Henrietta (Hetti Outerbridge). They had five children. After her death, in 1991, he married Judith Stewart in 1993. [19 ] Vickers died of [19 Alzheimer's disease on July 10, 2015 in Ontario. ] [20 ] [21
Vickers' voice was recorded in dozens of performances, including:
Opera recordings Edit
Giasone in Cherubini's , with conductor Medea Nicola Rescigno, live recording from Dallas Civic Opera 1958.
Don Carlo in Verdi's , with conductor Don Carlos Carlo Maria Giulini, live recording from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden 1958.
Siegmund in Wagner's , with conductor Die Walküre Hans Knappertsbusch, live recording from the Bayreuth Festival 1958.
Samson in Handel's , with conductor Samson Raymond Leppard, live recording from the Royal OPERA House, Covent Garden 1959.
Otello in Verdi's , with conductor Otello Tullio Serafin, RCA Victor 1960.
Siegmund in Wagner's , with conductor Die Walküre Erich Leinsdorf, Decca 1961.
Radames in Verdi's , with conductor Sir Aida Georg Solti, Decca 1961.
Florestan in Beethoven's , with conductor Fidelio Otto Klemperer, EMI 1961.
Samson in Saint-Saëns' , with conductor Samson and Delilah Georges Prêtre, EMI 1962.
Gustavo III in Verdi's , with conductor Un ballo in maschera Edward Downes, live recording from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden 1962.
Parsifal in Wagner's , with conductor Parsifal Hans Knappertsbusch, live recording from the Bayreuth Festival 1964.
Siegmund in Wagner's , with conductor Die Walküre Herbert von Karajan, Deutsche Grammophon 1966.
Énée in Berlioz , with conductor Les Troyens Colin Davis, Philips 1969.
Don José in Bizet's , with conductor Carmen Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, EMI 1969–70.
Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio, with conductor Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1970.
Tristan in Wagner's , with conductor Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1971–72.
Tristan und Isolde Otello in Verdi's Otello, with conductor Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1973.
Pollione in Bellini's , with conductor Norma Giuseppe Patanè, live recording from the Festival d'Orange 1974.
Cellini in Berlioz's , with conductor Benvenuto Cellini Sarah Caldwell, VAI 1975. ]
[22 Grimes in Britten's , with conductor Colin Davis, Philips 1978.
Concert recordings Edit
Elgar: , with conductor Sir The Dream of Gerontius John Barbirolli, live recording Rome 1957
Handel: , with conductor Sir Messiah Thomas Beecham, RCA Victor 1959
Vaughan Williams: , with conductor Serenade to Music Leonard Bernstein, live recording from the Lincoln Center NY 1962
Verdi: , with conductor Sir John Barbirolli, EMI 1969–70
Requiem Mahler: , with conductor Sir Das Lied von der Erde Colin Davis, Philips 1981
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, "Choral", with conductor Zubin Mehta, RCA Red Seal 1984.
Recital recordings Edit
Italian: Arias by OPERA Arias Cilea, Flotow, Giordano, Leoncavallo, Ponchielli, Puccini and Verdi, with conductor Tullio Serafin, RCA Victor 1961.
Richard Strauss: , Op. 38, with pianist Enoch Arden Marc-André Hamelin, VAI 2006.
Franz Schubert: with pianist Peter Schaaf. VAI 1995.