Jon Vickers

Picture ofJon Vickers

Jon Vickers sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (1)
In RA format

Jon Vickers sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (2)
In RA format

Jon Vickers sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (3)
In RA format

Jon Vickers sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (4)
In RA format

Jon Vickers sings Parsifal: Nur eine Waffe taugt

Jon Vickers singsFidelio: Gott, welch Dunkel hier
In RA format

I would like to thank Imogen Norcroft for the recording (Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond 2, 3 and 4).
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings (Parsifal, Fidelio).
I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the picture.

Some reminiscences

Back in the 1960's, I first heard from Jon Vickers through French and English (Rosenthal) reviews. While English reviews were all unanimous in their praise, the French critics of that time were pretty negative, complaining about his lack of top notes, his abuse of pianissimi in difficult passages and so on. Soon after, I acquired the Walküre version with him and conducted by Leinsdorf. On record and in a low tenor role, Vickers sounded pretty good. Having admired the Samson et Dalila recording with Luccioni, I purchased the version with Vickers after reading the excellent English reviews. I put it on and started listening to Arrêtez ô mes frères. Remembering the Luccioni, Verdière, Escalaïs etc renderings, I was stunned by the lack of power and the insignificance of Vickers's presence and singing. After sampling more of his singing, I never played the set again. Even the miracle of modern electronics could not save that mediocre performance. After spending a lot of money to get a ticket, I went to hear Vickers in Carmen during the Salzburg summer festival. I heard, or rather barely heard, a non-heroic voice, necessary in the last two acts, going through the part with overuse of pianissimi. As usual there was praise from the English, condemnation from the French. During the following years, I heard him in different roles, especially Canio and Otello, not at all the voice for these roles. He was particularly ridiculous in Otello, where he overacted faute de mieux, wiggling his rear-end while crawling on the stage. The only time I was satisfied with him was in Peter Grimes, an opera I went to hear because it was part of my subscription. Since I could not care less for Britten's operas, I never repeated the experience. Now French critics have also lowered their standards, Segalini finds him the greatest heroic tenor!? But this is the same person that found that Ninon Vallin was singing like a fishmonger.


The school for fathers (Filipeto) – Toronto, Radio, 26 November 1952
The rake's progress (Sellem) – Toronto, Radio, 22 April 1953
Così fan tutte (Ferrando) – Toronto, Radio, 25 November 1953
Rigoletto – Toronto, Opera Festival, 25 February 1954
A tale of two cities (Charles Darnay) – Toronto, Radio, 5 May 1954
Die Fledermaus (Alfred) – Toronto, TV, 16 May 1954
Down in the valley (Brack Weaver) – Toronto, TV, 1 August 1954
Evgenij Onegin – Toronto, Radio, 17 November 1954
Manon Lescaut (Act 2) – Toronto, TV, 30 December 1954
La traviata – Toronto, Opera Festival, 1 March 1955
Tosca (Act 1) – Toronto, TV, 26 May 1955
Pagliacci – Montréal, TV, 3 November 1955
The Ruby (Albert)-Toronto, Radio, 30 November 1955
Il trovatore (Act 4) – Toronto, TV, 5 January 1956
Le nozze di Figaro (Basilio) – Toronto, TV, 22 January 1956
Die Walküre (Act 1) – Toronto, Radio, 6 February 1956
Carmen – Toronto, Opera Festival, 24 February 1956
The rape of Lucretia (Male Chorus) – Stratford, Festival, 7 July 1956
The yeoman of the guard – Toronto, Radio, 5 September 1956
Troilus and Cressida (Troilus) – Toronto, Radio, 10 October 1956
H.M.S. Pinafore (Ralph Rackstraw) – Toronto, TV, 31 October 1956
Médée – Philadelphia, American Opera Society, 17 November 1956
Fidelio (Florestan) – New York, American Opera Festival, 20 November 1956
Gianni Schicchi (Rinuccio) – Toronto, TV, 26 December 1956
Un ballo in maschera – Cardiff, Royal, 4 March 1957
Les Troyens – London, Covent Garden, 14 June 1957
Aida – London, Covent Garden, 26 November 1957
Don Carlos – London, Covent Garden, 9 May 1958
Die Walküre – Bayreuth, Festspielhaus, 14 August 1958
Samson – Leeds, Royal, 14 October 1958
Parsifal – London, Covent Garden, 28 May 1959
Andrea Chénier – Wien, Staatsoper, 13 January 1961
Otello – Buenos Aires, Colón, 17 May 1963
Samson et Dalila – Buenos Aires, Colón, 28 June 1963
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Sergej) – San Francisco, War Memorial, 23 October 1964
Der fliegende Holländer (Erik) – New York, Met, 1 March 1965
Pikovaja dama – New York, Met, 28 September 1965
Peter Grimes – New York, Met, 20 January 1967
Padmâvatí (Ratan-Sen) – Buenos Aires, Colón, 23 July 1968
Tristan und Isolde – Buenos Aires, Colón, 25 September 1971
Dido and Aeneas – Dallas, Opera, 3 November 1972
Salome (Herodes) – Orange, 13 July 1974
Norma – Orange, 20 July 1974
Její pastorkyňa (Laca) – New York, Met, 15 November 1974
La forza del destino – New York, Met, 17 January 1975
The diary of one who vanished – Guelph, Spring Festival, 27 April 1975
Benvenuto Cellini – Boston, Opera, 3 May 1975
L'incorazione di Poppea (Nero) – Paris, Opéra, 17 March 1978
The bartered bride (Vašek) – New York, MET, 25 October 1978
Reference: Jeannie Williams A hero's life. Jon Vickers, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1999

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