Jon Vickers: A Hero's Life

Overview

During his extraordinary career, the now-legendary Canadian tenor Jon Vickers sang the most demanding of operatic roles -- Tristan, Peter Grimes, Otello, Aeneas, Parsifal -- with searing emotional intensity and dramatic interpretation. In this first biography of Vickers, Jeannie Williams provides a captivating and revealing portrait of a very private, deeply religious man and complex artist who baffled and often enraged his friends and colleagues.

Drawing on scores of interviews...

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Overview

During his extraordinary career, the now-legendary Canadian tenor Jon Vickers sang the most demanding of operatic roles -- Tristan, Peter Grimes, Otello, Aeneas, Parsifal -- with searing emotional intensity and dramatic interpretation. In this first biography of Vickers, Jeannie Williams provides a captivating and revealing portrait of a very private, deeply religious man and complex artist who baffled and often enraged his friends and colleagues.

Drawing on scores of interviews with those who knew and worked with Vickers, Williams traces his life from boyhood in western Canada, to schooling in Toronto, to his debut at Covent Garden, to his tenure at the Royal Opera House, to his celebrated appearances on the world's major opera stages. She discusses his signature roles, including details of a little-known Otello in South Africa, over-the-edge performances, and stormy battles with conductors and directors. In addition, she details Vickers' controversial withdrawal from the Tannhuser opera, his on-going friction with BBC-TV, his conflicted relationship with his native Canada, and his choices in repertory. Williams also illuminates the paradoxes in the world view of a man who might have been a preacher or a prime minister if he had not been blessed with such a remarkable musical talent.

This in-depth, well-balanced, and objective biography will stand as the definitive work on one of the world's greatest heroic tenors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Jon Vickers: A Hero’s Life paints a fascinating, comprehensive, and colorful picture of a spellbinding and irreplaceable artist.”—The Opera Quarterly

“No one who heard Jon Vickers on a night when he ‘came alive’ will ever forget him; his ideas on singing, and the strength of his commitment in roles ranging from the heroic Enee to the comic Vasek, ensure that this singer’s biography is a cut above most. Jeannie Williams has done an excellent job in bringing back memories of an extraordinarily vivid singer.”—Opera News

“Williams’s in-depth study includes performance histories, discography and videography, copious notes, and an extensive index. Taken together, these provide a remarkable entree into the private world of opera performance. Opera buffs and general readers will be grateful.”—Choice

“It is an achievement of this book, that while giving so clear a picture of the man, great but fallible, it also enables us to review the art, fallible also but still more surely great.”—Opera Now

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555536749
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2007
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 1,016,116
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword - Brigit Nilsson
Preface
Prologue
THE EARLY YEARS: 1926-1956
Prince Albert
Footloose
Beginnings at the Conservatory
A Tenor in Toronto
THE CAREER BEGINS: 1957-1959
Covent Garden and Battling the BBC
A Don Carlos Triumph and Bayreuth Debut
New Roles, New Houses
ASCENDANCY: THE 1960s
The Met
The Solti Debacle
Lonely Hotels
Peter Grimes
A Prophet in His Own Country
GAINING THE HEIGHTS: THE 1970s
A Unique Tenor Repertoire and a Tristan Debut
A Moor Does Battle, Énée and Tristan at the Met
A Man and His Music
The Tannhauser Scandal
From Moose Jaw to Monteverdi
WINDING DOWN: THE 1980s
A Winter's Journey
Final Grimes, Otello in South Africa
Parsifal and Farewell to the Met
Canadian Coda and a Worldview
Epilogue
Performance History
Opera Roles and First Performances
Selected Discography and Videography
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index  
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