Tenor Jon Vickers Dies At 88

The first opera I saw as a child at the Metropolitan Opera was “Tristan und Isolde,” starring Birgit Nilsson and Jon Vickers: it’s been all downhill from there. Vickers has just died at age 88. He was Canadian. And he was one of the few twentieth-century singers able to sustain opera’s most heroic roles for an extended period. It is one measure of his achievement that he sang dozens of performances of Wagner’s “Tristan,” Verdi’s “Otello” and the punishing role of Aeneas in the Berlioz epic “Les Troyens.” It is a more specific measure that he sang all of these roles, including five Otellos, in a six-week period at the Met in 1974. Nobody has that kind of stamina anymore.

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