Jon Vickers: a hero's life

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Northeastern University Press, Nov 9, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 391 pages
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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Jon Vickers: a hero's life

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Unlike both his contemporary Maria Callas and the "three tenors" of the succeeding generation, Canadian tenor Jon Vickers (1926- ) has been the focus of few publications--chiefly because of his ... Read full review


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