'God's Tenor' Dead at 88

Jon Vickers had voice of 'a hundred colors and inflections'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 12, 2015 9:54 AM CDT
'God's Tenor' Dead at 88
FILE - In this Feb. 22, 1961, file photo, Jon Vickers, in the role of Florestan, and Sena Jurinac, as Leonora, pose together at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, during the photo-call for the New London production of "Fidelio". The Royal Opera House said Sunday, July 12, 2015, that the...   (Bob Dear)

Canada-born opera singer Jon Vickers, nicknamed "God's tenor" for his inimitable voice and strong Christian beliefs, has died. He was 88. The Royal Opera House opera, citing a statement from Vickers' family, said he died Friday in Ontario after a struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, in 1926, Vickers sang as a child in church choirs and aspired to study medicine before winning a scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Vickers made his Royal Opera debut in 1957. A year later, he performed at Germany's Bayreuth festival, going on to become one of the world's leading performers of Richard Wagner. From 1960, he was a regular at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Vickers stood out among dramatic tenors for the intensity of his performances and his richly powerful voice, described by critic John Ardoin as "holding a hundred colors and inflections." "Art is a wrestling with the meaning of life," Vickers once said, and his religious faith informed his artistic choices. Despite his association with Wagner's works, he found the German composer—whose anti-Semitism made him a Nazi favorite—morally objectionable. In 1977, Vickers pulled out of Wagner's "Tannhauser," saying he considered it anti-Christian. Vickers performed around the world, collecting numerous honorary degrees, companionship in the Order of Canada, and two Grammy Awards. He retired in 1988. A family statement said he was "a man of the land who was the most at home on his farm, surrounded by nature and his family." (Read more tenor stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.