|About Jon Vickers|
A Hero's Life
by Jeannie Williams
Northeastern University Press
|Jeannie Williams has written a biography of tenor Jon Vickers without his authorization or cooperation.
Born in Canada, Jon Vickers appeared at Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, and other major opera houses. His best known roles are Peter Grimes, Otello, Tristan, Parsifal, Florestan, and Canio. Another role in which he excelled is that of Énée in Berlioz' Les Troyens.
The book is written almost entirely in chronological order, which in an opera singer's biography tends to make the book seem very much like every other opera singer's biography, i.e a list of performances in prose form. Still, it is a competently written, apparently thoroghly researched book.
Vickers was the Peter Grimes of his time. Miss Williams devotes a chapter to that role. The composer Benjamin Britten appears not to have liked Vickers' interpretation of the role very much. Vickers changed some words and even some notes, and his approach to the role was diffeent from that of its originator Peter Pears. The record apparently affords no clear statements by Britten as to the reasons for his dislike.
Throughout the book, we are told that Vickers was very religious, and some references are made to his "philosophy," but there is no clear exposition of what his "philosophy" is. The book generally depicts him as difficult, somewhat anit-social, and with strong feelings against homosexuals and homosexuality. He did not attend his father's funeral, and the book provides no explanation, suggesting merely that he would have gone had his mother still been alive.
I found the book interesting reading throughout, and I would recommend it to anyone with an insatiable desire to read opera singer's biogrpahies.