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  • Performance of Falstaff on 18 July 2015 to be dedicated to the memory of Jon Vickers

Performance of Falstaff on 18 July 2015 to be dedicated to the memory of Jon Vickers

The Canadian tenor was particularly acclaimed for his performances in Verdi, Wagner and as Peter Grimes, but was also celebrated across a wide repertory.

By Alasdair Steven (Music writer)

13 July 2015 at 10.30am | 3 Comments

The performance of Robert Carsen's Royal Opera production of Falstaff will be dedicated to the memory of the late Jon Vickers.

‘Jon Vickers was one of the operatic giants of the 20th century’, says Director of Opera Kasper Holten. ‘He has given operatic audiences — both at ROH and around the world — truly unforgettable moments, some of which are fortunately recorded for future generations to enjoy. To learn of his death has made a profound impression on all of us at ROH, and we all think of him and the loved ones he left behind.

‘As no title in our current repertory is amongst Jon Vickers’ most celebrated achievements, we have decided to dedicate the last performance of the season, Verdi's last masterpiece Falstaff on Saturday 18 July, to his memory. An opera by Verdi — and his last one — seems a fitting tribute to a singer who made an everlasting impression in the same composer's Otello.’

Born in 1926, the tenor was one of the first stars to emerge from the Covent Garden Opera Company in the 1950s. His powerful voice and commanding stage presence made him unforgettable in Wagner and Verdi roles, and as Peter Grimes in Elijah Moshinsky’s influential 1975 production.

Vickers was unquestionably one of the great Heldentenors of the post-war era. But such was his vocal versatility that he was also renowned in such diverse roles as Samson (both Handel’s and Saint-Säens’), Aeneas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio and as Jason in Cherubini’s Medea, starring opposite Maria Callas in 1959.

Vickers’s performance of the title role in the famous Visconti production of Don Carlo in 1958 is part of Royal Opera history – no less so his performances as Radames, Otello, Tristan and Siegmund. Vickers also toured extensively with The Royal Opera and celebrated 25 years with the company in 1982.

To all his roles Vickers brought a unique sense of musical phrasing, always individual and exciting. On stage he was a passionate performer, and introduced an extra physical dimension to such roles as Florestan and Peter Grimes.

John Tooley recalls how ‘Jon, a singer of extraordinary intensity and commitment, used his large voice to thrilling as well as deeply moving dramatic and musical ends, but only on roles of his considered choice. He was profoundly moved by his faith and this in turn governed what he undertook.

‘Jon was never slow to tell conductors, producers and managers what he thought of them. After the outburst good sense usually prevailed, compromise was reached and the production benefited. Jon gave many wonderful performances, which will live long in the memory.’

By Alasdair Steven (Music writer)

13 July 2015 at 10.30am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Robert Carsen, Falstaff, Jon Vickers, obituary, Production

This article has 3 comments

  1. eddy fauville responded on 13 July 2015 at 8:02pm Reply

    very good article on this inmense and unique artist whom I had the chance to see at the ROH as Otello and Peter Grimes .Just one small correction : Vickers never sang Siegfried ; however ,he sang Siegmund !

    • Rachel Beaumont (Product Manager) responded on 14 July 2015 at 9:32am

      Hi Eddy,

      Many thanks for letting us know about that error, which has now been corrected.

      Thanks again and all best,

  2. Pauline Frost responded on 14 July 2015 at 8:23pm Reply

    I was lucky enough to see Vickers sing Otello and Tristan with the Opera de Quebec in Montreal in 1973 and 1975 respectively. They count as the most sublime performances that I have ever experienced in a life-time of opera going. We can only give thanks for such a sublime gift.

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