Jon Vickers on the Met’s Sirius XM

By Sedgwick Clark

NOT TO BE MISSED! This week, the Metropolitan Opera pays tribute to the late Jon Vickers by devoting its entire programming on Sirius XM to archival broadcasts featuring the great Canadian tenor. The second opera I ever heard live was this Peter Grimes, and I was fortunate to attend at least one performance of every Met production in which he appeared thereafter.

Once heard, never forgotten. Looking over the repertoire list in the Met’s press release below, I realize how Vickers’s inimitable singing style, intensity, and commitment—especially as Florestan, Grimes, and Otello—colored my expectations whenever I heard another artist in the role.

Vickers made his Met debut as Canio in Pagliacci in 1960 and appeared in the opera for the last time 25 years later.  I’ll never forget the scene where Canio frantically pursues his wife’s young lover, Silvio. The 59-year-old Vickers tore downstage like a man unhinged—not for a second allowing his age to compromise the dramatic moment.

Will Crutchfield provided an insightful summation of the tenor’s artistry in his Pagliacci review in the Times (11/25/85): “Mr. Vickers is utterly committed to the truth of each moment as it goes by, and . . . the strength of spirit and personal magnetism he brings to that commitment is enormous. In ‘Un tal gioco’ he was addressing the villager whose joke had touched a raw nerve, fixing him in the eyes. The man seemed a little shaken, as though it were real—just as, at the end, the Met choristers seemed really to be on the edge of their seats, watching Vickers-Canio step over the border between theater and life.”


New York, NY (July 17, 2015)— The Metropolitan Opera on Sirius XM (Channel 74) will honor the memory of the late Canadian tenor Jon Vickers, who passed away last week, by playing seven of his greatest Met performances in rotation throughout the week of July 20. The legendary dramatic tenor gave 280 Met performances during his career with the company, which spanned 27 years and included 17 different roles.

The company will honor Vickers in other ways throughout the coming season, including dedicating the opening night performance of Verdi’s Otello on September 21 to his memory.

The archival broadcasts that will air in rotation next week cover the full span of Vickers’s Met career, from 1960 to 1987. The performances include a 1960 matinee of Beethoven’s Fidelio, conducted by Karl Böhm and also starring Birgit Nilsson; a 1961 performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre, in which Vickers sang his most frequent Met role, Siegmund, opposite Nilsson and Gladys Kuchta, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf; performances of two of the title roles with which he was most identified, Britten’s Peter Grimes (from 1969) and Verdi’s Otello (from 1978); a rare comic role, Vašek in a 1978 performance of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride; a 1979 performance of Wagner’s Parsifal, also starring Christa Ludwig and conducted by James Levine in one of his first Met performances of the opera; and Vickers’s final Met performance, the April 18, 1987 matinee of Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, also starring Marilyn Horne.

More details on the seven performances, each of which will air 3 or 4 times during the week, is available below. For a complete schedule with broadcast times, please visit

Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM

Jon Vickers Tribute: July 20-26


Fidelio (February 13, 1960). Conductor: Karl Böhm. Starring: Birgit Nilsson, Jon Vickers, Hermann Uhde, Oskar Czerwenka, Laurel Hurley, Charles Anthony, Giorgio Tozzi

Die Walküre (December 23, 1961). Conductor: Erich Leinsdorf. Starring: Birgit Nilsson, Jon Vickers, Gladys Kuchta, Otto Edelmann, Irene Dalis, Ernst Wiemann.

Peter Grimes (April 5, 1969). Conductor: Colin Davis. Starring: Jon Vickers, Lucine Amara, Geraint Evans.

Otello (February 4, 1978). Conductor: James Levine. Starring: Jon Vickers, Katia Ricciarelli, Cornell MacNeil, Frank Little, James Morris.

The Bartered Bride (December 2, 1978). Conductor: James Levine. Starring: Teresa Stratas, Nicolai Gedda, Jon Vickers, Martti Talvela.

Parsifal (April 14, 1979). Conductor: James Levine. Starring: Christa Ludwig, Jon Vickers, Bernd Weikl, Martti Talvela, Vern Shinall.

Samson et Dalila (April 18, 1987). Conductor: Jean Fournet. Starring: Jon Vickers, Marilyn Horne, Louis Quilico.

Comments are closed.