Jon Vickers

Biography

Born: October 29, 1926; Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada   Died: July 10, 2015; Ontario, Canada  
While Jon Vickers was best known as a Wagnerian heldentenor, he was also capable of singing lieder, baroque opera, spinto Italian roles, and even the comic role of Vasek in The Bartered Bride. His voice and physique both radiated power, and his stage presence was one of the most impressive of his era. Like many singers with huge voices, he sometimes resorted to crooning soft passages, but the effect of such a voice scaled down was still highly Read more impressive. He was a man of equally powerful convictions, and refused to sing roles which he considered to be lacking in morality, or whose lack of morality did not carry a lesson.

His father was a lay preacher, and the young Vickers often sang for services. As his vocal gifts became more and more evident, he began to reconsider his aspirations for a career in business; his inclination towards music was confirmed in 1950, when he received a Royal Conservatory scholarship to study voice in Toronto. There he learned technique (founded in Baroque rather than Wagnerian music) from George Lambert and interpretation from Herman Geiger-Torel. He made his operatic debut as the Duke in Rigoletto at the Toronto Opera in 1952, and continued to sing in local houses and for Canadian radio in a wide variety of roles, from Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte to Alfredo in La Traviata to a few excerpts from Die Walküre and Parsifal.

In 1956, frustrated with what appeared to be a limited career and unsure whether he wanted the pressures of an operatic lifestyle, he was considering leaving music, but within a month of the deadline he gave himself to decide, Covent Garden invited him to make his debut as Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera in 1957. Other roles and debuts quickly followed: his Bayreuth debut as Siegmund in 1958, his Vienna State Opera debut in 1959 in the same role, his Met debut as Canio in 1960, and his La Scala debut the same year as Florestan in Fidelio. His first Peter Grimes was at the Met in 1967. By that time, he was one of the world's major heldentenors, and in 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He made his Salzburg Festival debut the next year, as Verdi's Otello (a role he filmed with von Karajan). In 1976, he took on the title role of Handel's Samson at the work's United States premiere in Dallas, and followed that with performances in other major U.S. houses. He retired in 1988.

Vickers was known for having a prickly temperament, and was famous for once interrupting the last act of Tristan und Isolde to shout at the audience, "Stop your damned coughing!" In other ways, he was deeply modest -- he refused to call himself an "artist," insisting that he was merely the interpreter of the real artists, the composers, and refused to make recital pieces or recordings of arias outside of the context of the complete work, saying that this practice inappropriately elevated the performer above the music.

His Peter Grimes is one of the most memorable renditions of the role (despite the fact that Britten found the thought of Vickers singing it so far from the original spirit that he refused to attend his performances or hear the recording), and his Tristan und Isolde is magnificent, with one of the most moving death scenes on record. In the Italian repertoire, he made a powerful Radames on the Solti recording with Leontyne Price. Read less
Browse 26-50 of 82 Available Recordings
1 2 3 4
  • 26.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Karajan, Dernesch, Vickers, Van Dam
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 48172 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Jon Vickers,  Helen Donath,  Zoltan Kélémén  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $29.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $29.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 27.
    50 Best Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57531 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Gustave Charpentier  ... 
    Performer:  Cornelius Hauptmann,  Margareta Lilowa,  Carolyn Watkinson,  Ursula Kunz  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Bernard Haitink,  Rafael Kubelik,  Peter Schneider  ... 
    CD: $13.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 28.
    Best Verdi 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40878 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Richard Van Allan,  Keith Erwen,  Delia Wallis,  Ferruccio Mazzoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Tullio Serafin,  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $21.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 29.
    Verdi: Aida Scenes & Arias / Solti, Price, Gorr, Vickers
    Label: London/Decca Opera Gala Series   Catalog: 421860 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Giorgio Tozzi,  Leontyne Price,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 30.
    Essential Wagner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 88597 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Helga Dernesch,  Christa Ludwig,  Siegfried Jerusalem  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Bernard Haitink,  Mariss Jansons
    CD: $13.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $13.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 31.
    Berlioz: The Trojans / Shuard, Elms, Thebom, Vickers, Kubelik
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1443 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Robert Allman,  Rhydderch Davies,  Blanche Thebom,  Michael Langdon  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $90.49
    Back Order
    CD:  $90.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 32.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Walton,  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Koch,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $18.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 33.
    Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana; Leoncavallo: Pagliacci / Karajan
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001076609 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Ruggero Leoncavallo
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Peter Glossop,  Raina Kabaivanska,  Fiorenza Cossotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
    Recommendation
    DVD: $29.99
    In Stock
    DVD:  $29.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 34.
    French Opera Masterworks
    Label: Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog: 9802 Release Date: 10/16/2007   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Georges Bizet,  Charles Gounod,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Oralia Dominguez,  Jon Vickers,  Ernest Blanc,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Fournet,  Sir Georg Solti,  Georges Prętre,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Netherlands Radio Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $33.98
    CD: $29.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $33.98   CD:  $29.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 35.
    Mirella Freni- Great Opera Duets
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63665 Release Date: 09/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Charles Gounod,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Mirella Freni,  Sesto Bruscantini,  Gösta Winbergh  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Riccardo Muti,  Otto Klemperer,  Michel Plasson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Special Order
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 36.
    Opera Obsession! Act IV - Opera d'Oro's Greatest Hits
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 1004 Release Date: 09/04/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Jon Vickers,  Oralia Dominguez  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Jean Fournet,  Horst Stein,  Bohumil Gregor  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Netherlands Radio Symphony,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $8.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 37.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Dernesch, Vickers, Karajan
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69290 Release Date: 09/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Helga Dernesch,  Zoltan Kélémén,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $29.98
    ArkivCD $24.99
    Special Order
    On sale!   $29.98   ArkivCD:  $24.99 Add to Cart

  • 38.
    Grand Tier - Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila / Fournet, Vickers
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 7028 Release Date: 06/13/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Ernest Blanc,  Jon Vickers,  Henk Drissen,  Peter Van der Bilt  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Fournet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Symphony,  Netherlands Radio Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $31.98
    CD: $28.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $31.98   CD:  $28.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 39.
    Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila / Davis, Vickers, Verrett
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2288 Release Date: 12/20/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Shirley Verrett,  Jon Vickers,  John Tomlinson
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    On sale! $29.99
    DVD: $26.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $29.99   DVD:  $26.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 40.
    Bizet: Carmen / Karajan, Bumbry, Vickers, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000435209 Release Date: 06/14/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Milen Paunov,  Anton Diakov,  Julia Hamari,  Grace Bumbry  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    DVD: $29.99
    In Stock
    DVD:  $29.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 41.
    Verdi: Otello / Karajan, Vickers, Freni, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000428509 Release Date: 06/14/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Michel Sénéchal,  Peter Glossop,  Jon Vickers,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    DVD: $29.99
    Low Stock
    DVD:  $29.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 42.
    100 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 862112 Release Date: 02/15/2005   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Wagner,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Gary Lakes,  Maria Callas,  Tito Gobbi,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon,  Alceo Galliera,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $18.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 43.
    Opera Hits - Music From Barber Of Seville, Madama Butterfly, Etc
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2016 Release Date: 09/28/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Giacomo Puccini,  Gioachino Rossini,  Various
    Performer:  Nicola Martinucci,  John Rawnsley,  Maria Ewing,  Eva Martón  ... 
    DVD: $18.99
    In Stock
    DVD:  $18.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 44.
    Saint-Saens: Samson et Dalila / Vickers, Dominquez, Fournet
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 1405 Release Date: 06/08/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Ernest Blanc,  Jon Vickers,  Henk Drissen,  Peter Van der Bilt  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Fournet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Symphony,  Netherlands Radio Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $18.98
    CD: $15.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $18.98   CD:  $15.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 45.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Caldwell, Vickers, Kubiak, Et Al
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1222 Release Date: 05/04/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Teresa Kubiak
    Conductor:  Sarah Caldwell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Opera Company of Boston
    On sale! $34.98
    CD: $29.99
    Low Stock
    On sale!   $34.98   CD:  $29.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 46.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Klemperer, Jurinac, Vickers, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1328 Release Date: 01/13/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Joseph Ward,  Jon Vickers,  Gottlob Frick,  Hans Hotter  ... 
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
    Recommendation
    On sale! $52.98
    CD: $44.99
    Back Order
    On sale!   $52.98   CD:  $44.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 47.
    Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde / Vickers, Knie, Montreal Symphony
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4259 Release Date: 12/02/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Roberta Knie
    Conductor:  Franz Paul Decker
    DVD: $33.99
    Low Stock
    DVD:  $33.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 48.
    Britten: Peter Grimes / Davis, Vickers, Harper,  Bailey
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2255 Release Date: 11/18/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Norman Bailey,  Jon Vickers,  Heather Harper
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    On sale! $29.99
    DVD: $26.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $29.99   DVD:  $26.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 49.
    Jon Vickers - His Early Television Performances
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4240 Release Date: 08/21/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Jon Vickers
    On sale! $39.95
    DVD: $37.99
    In Stock
    On sale!   $39.95   DVD:  $37.99 Add DVD to Cart

  • 50.
    Close Encounters With Great Singers - Jon Vickers
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1218 Release Date: 06/24/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Benjamin Britten,  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Marc-André Hamelin,  Jon Vickers,  Peter Glossop,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Horst Stein,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $11.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $11.99 Add CD to Cart

1 2 3 4