The Jon Vickers Exhibit
Celebrating tenor Jon Vickers!
Jon Vickers as I Saw and Heard Him

So many opera lovers -- and artist colleagues -- have had remarkable experiences with Jon Vickers, whether seeing him in opera and concert, or even meeting him.
The first CBC Radio 2 broadcast (July 9) of four "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera" programs on Vickers included mention of the experience of a  Georgia fan who, in 1972, was able to call Vickers in his Met dressing room during an "Otello" broadcast and tell him how much he was moved by the performance. They had a wonderful chat (probably this would not happen today!), and later the admirer received a gracious letter from Vickers, who then was in Berlin recording "Otello" with Karajan.
What is your story?

3 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Gregory Mowery | July 13, 2011 at 11:59 AM EDT

I lived in New York during the period of Jon Vickers mature peak and saw him in many roles, including Florestan, Aeneas, Siegmund, Parsifal, Peter Grimes, Otello, Canio, and Tristan. The sheer cut of his voice and how it sliced through the thickest orchestral fortissimos, was physical in its impact. The voice was just enormous. His acting was a little terrifying in its intensity. He would stride over the width of the huge Met stage and simply command it by the sheer force of his personality. And he sounded like no other tenor I've ever heard. For my money, Peter Grimes and oddly enough, Canio, were the most impactful. Both performances broke your heart. He didn't sob or beg for sympathy as Canio and the performance was all the better for it. His Grimes absorbed the full impact of his judgemental village and all Lucias should study how he built the final Peter's final mad scene before rowing out to sea. He was simply a great, great actor. But it is that huge, expressive instrument of his that I'll never forget. Love this site. Hope to see much more on it in the future.

2. Lise Boucher | July 16, 2011 at 02:27 PM EDT

I was 18! I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah in Ottawa, December 8, 1955, in the auditorium of the High School of Commerce. The soloists were Jon Vickers, Ann Watson, Gretta Jaynes and Donald Gramm. Mado, my friend, and I often attended classical concerts. We were absolutely thrilled, especially by Jon Vickers' performance After the concert, we attended a little tea/coffee get-together with the artists, in the gymnasium. After the reception, my friend and I headed out to catch the bus back home. Lo and behold! Jon Vickers and Donald Gramm were also waiting for the bus (those were the days). While waiting, Jon Vickers proceeded to sing us a \"little\" song in French. I never new what the title was, but I never forgot the first few lines which went like this: \"Jeunes fillettes profitez du temps, Les amourettes ne durent qu'un temps\". Eventually, I moved to Nova Scotia and only had one other opportunity to hear Vickers sing in person, and that was in the 70's at the Roy Thomson in Toronto. I am the proud owner of the Messiah recording featuring Jon Vickers, Lois Marshall, Mary Palmateer and James Milligan (Beaver Records), and also the review that appeared in le Journal Le Droit of Ottawa. Those are great memories, and to this day, at Christmastime, I still put on my records, at least twice.

3. Mark Rottschafer | July 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM EDT

I have a cassette of Aug. 12, 1978 Die Walkuere Act 1 at Tanglewood with the BSO, Vickers and Norman (Gwynne Howell as Hunding), under Ozawa. Am putting it on CD, just listened, and all I can say is Oh My God! It is more than I remember. Live performances beat studios every time. The fidelity of my 33 yr old cassette is all there with excellent mic placement for the live concert performance.

It's really Jon's show, and what a show it is. No wonder the audience gave him a 10 minute standing O. The applause was explosive! Jessye is good, but is definitely playing second fiddle to and often over powered by Jon. Howell is also good, but there is no question that Jon is the star.

Definitely a 'shiver me timbers' performance!

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