Thursday, August 6, 2015

V is for Jon Vickers

     Jon Vickers was one of the most renown operatic tenors in the world.  In fact, he was more than merely a tenor, Jon Vickers was a heldentenor, which means to have a heroic presence on stage.  In my opinion, if you have the vocal ability to sing opera the way it is meant to be sung, you may as well go all the way and be heroic in the process.  Jon Vickers was every bit that hero.

     Jon studied opera at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in the 1950s and, upon graduation, joined The Covent Garden Company of London's Royal Opera House in 1957 and then, in 1960, joined the company at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.  Possessing a strong, powerful voice, Vickers was able to easily handle the rigours of Opera's founding languages; French, Italian and German.  He was noted for his acting abilities, as much as his vocal prowess and, as such, was a sought-after performer in virtually all major operas of note.  His favourite composer was Wagner but, Vickers was more than comfortable handling the work of any composer.  He was awarded the Companion to the Order of Canada and The Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

     Just this past month, Jon Vickers passed away at his home in Ontario.  He had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease at the time of his death.  In order to forestall the onset of Alzheimers as long as possible, family members and hospital staff filled his home and then, eventually, his room, with the rich, full, glorious sounds of his operas.  Bizet (Carmen), Handel (Samson), Berlioz (Les Troyens), Verdi (Otello), Beethoven (Fidelio), Wagner (Die Walker, "Winterstrume"); the words, music and passion of a life lived grandly, filled his final hours, leaving such a rich tapestry of success for all of us to admire.
     Jon Vickers was Canada's greatest Heldentenor.  A hero to all who truly care about great music.

     A big tip of the hat is extended toward the following performers whose name begins with the letter, "V":

     Alternative singer, Chad VanGaalen, Quebec metal bands, Voivod and Vulgaires Machins, Folk singer, Valdy, Hit songwriter (especially for Bryan Adams), Jim Vallance, Prince protogee, Vanity, My pal, Gloria's lifelong boy crush, Singer Roch Voisine, Montreal Singer and 80s heart throb, Gino Vanelli, Lead singer of rock band, Helix, Brian Vollmer, Quebec singer, Vincent Vallieres, Electronic/Sound sampler, Venetian Snares and, finally, one of the godfathers of the Punk Music scene in Canada, The Viletones.

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