Dear members and visitors to the wagnerheim.com discussion forum:
A friend just mailed me an obit from the New York Times that tenor Jon Vickers has passed away. I had, only once, the privilege of seeing him perform live, as Tristan. It seems to me he may have performed opposite Mignon Dunn, but it was so long ago I can't remember. In my view he was one of the most persuasive Wagner actor-singers, and one of the most electrifying tenors in all of opera. I also cherish a dvd of his performance of Otello, my favorite of all operas in the Italian repertoire.
However, I got to see him up close and personal on one other occasion. In 1983, the centennial of Wagner's death, I flew up to Chicago to attend the international conference organized by the Univ. of Illinois, Chicago Circle, "Wagner in Retrospect: A Centennial Reappraisal." This was the first major Wagner-oriented event of my life. I carried with me twenty or so bound copies of a speedily written summary of my original research into Wagner's mature music-dramas, in which I tried to demonstrate their conceptual coherence. Sad to say, I had to write this 132 page text over a 5 and a half day period, working 16 hours per day, and the quality of the final product reflects this rush. Nonetheless, I distributed it to the majority of presenters at this 3 day conference. On the final day, The Univ. of Illinois Chicago Circle awarded an honorary PhD to Jon Vickers, who presented a talk on the importance of the arts, which was one of the most inspiring of my life. I can still picture him wholly filling the room with his presence.
He will be missed, but his legacy of electrifying performances lives on as an example to a younger generation of interpreters of Wagner's art and the wider operatic repertoire.
General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung
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