Episode 125. Jon Vickers

Episode 125. Jon Vickers (Great Canadian Singers)

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Our series saluting great Canadian singers continues with a tribute to one of the greatest singers I have ever seen in performance, the Saskatchewan-born tenor Jon Vickers. Not only was he a profoundly imaginative and creative singing actor, he was also one of the most problematic personalities to appear on the operatic stage in the second half of the twentieth century. I discuss many of the controversies surrounding Vickers the man, in particular his virulent homophobia and sexism, while still giving full attention to his unmatched artistry. I feature both live and studio recordings over the course of his entire career, encompassing both opera and art song, focusing on what are probably his four greatest operatic roles: Florestan, Otello, Peter Grimes, and Tristan. Vocal guest stars include Maria Callas, Eileen Farrell, Joan Carlyle, Leonie Rysanek, and Renata Scotto; conductors include Colin Davis, Otto Klemperer, Tullio Serafin, Rudolf Kempe, Nicola Rescigno, William Steinberg, and Herbert von Karajan.

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Georges Bizet: La fleur que tu m’avais jetée (Carmen). Jon Vickers, Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker [Salzburg 29.VII.67]

Gustav Mahler: Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde (Das Lied von der Erde). Jon Vickers, William Steinberg, Boston Symphony Orchestra [Boston 02.I.70]

With fellow Canadian Teresa Stratas

George Frideric Handel: The voice of him… Ev’ry valley shall be exalted (Messiah). Jon Vickers, Ernest MacMillan, Toronto Symphony [1952]

Tullio Serafin and Maria Callas

Giacomo Puccini: Recondita armonia (Tosca). Jon Vickers, Tullio Serafin, Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma [1961]

Umberto Giordano: Un dì, all’azzurro spazio (Andrea Chénier). Jon Vickers, Tullio Serafin, Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma [1961]

Luigi Cherubini: Son vane pur minacce… Nemici senza cor (Medea). Jon Vickers, Maria Callas, Nicola Rescigno, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [London 30.VI.59]

Ruggero Leoncavallo: Sperai, tanto il delirio (Pagliacci). Jon Vickers, Joan Carlyle, Cornell MacNeil, Bruno Tomaselli, José Nait, Bruno Bartoletti, Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Colón [Buenos Aires 21.VI.68]

Vickers with Sena Jurinac, his Covent Garden Leonore

Ludwig van Beethoven: Gott! Welch Dunkel hier! (Fidelio). Jon Vickers, Otto Klemperer, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [London 24.II.61]

Richard Wagner: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (Die Walküre). Jon Vickers, Leonie Rysanek, Hans Knappertsbusch, Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele [Bayreuth 28.VII.58]

Leonie Rysanek as Salome

Richard Strauss: Ah! Du willst nicht auf mich hören (Salome). Jon Vickers, Leonie Rysanek, Rudolf Kempe, Orchestre National de France [Orange 14.VII.74]

Joan Caplan, beloved friend and esteemed teacher

Henry Purcell: Stay, Prince!… Jove’s command shall be obeyed (Dido and Aeneas). Jon Vickers, Joan Caplan, Nicola Rescigno [Dallas 11.X.72]

Benjamin Britten: Steady! There you are! Nearly home! (Peter Grimes). Jon Vickers, Colin Davis, Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [London 03.IX.75]

Giuseppe Verdi: Tu di me ti fai gioco (Otello). Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto, James Levine [New York 25.IX.78]

Eileen Farrell

Richard Wagner: So stürben wir, um ungetrennt (Tristan und Isolde). Jon Vickers, Eileen Farrell, Brigitte Fassbaender, William Steinberg, Pittsburgh Symphony [Pittsburgh 05.V.73]

Srul Irving Glick

Srul Irving Glick, Kenneth Patchen: The sea is awash with roses (Two Landscapes [No. 1]). Jon Vickers, Richard Woitach [1984]

Franz Schubert, Wilhelm Müller: Der Lindenbaum (Winterreise, D.911/5). Jon Vickers, Peter Schaaf. [live 02.X.1983]

Ludwig Van Beethoven, Alois Jeitteles: Nimm sie hin, denn, diese Lieder (An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98/6). Jon Vickers, Leo Barkin [1972]

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