Magazine article Opera Canada

Jon Vickers

Magazine article Opera Canada

Jon Vickers

Article excerpt

Thank you for the wonderful tribute to my father in the Summer 2015 issue of Opera Canada, "Remembering Jon Vickers" (p. 20). The article contains two inaccuracies that need some clarification.

The most unfortunate inaccuracy, and it's one that pained my father, is found in the statement: "Much has been made as to why, after 1964, Vickers refused to sing with the Canadian Opera Company." The reason why my father never sang with the COC was not because he refused to, but because he was rarely invited to sing with the company, and on the few occasions when he was invited, he was booked elsewhere. It's as simple as that.

A comment made by former General Director Lotfi Mansouri initiated all the misunderstanding. When asked in an interview why Jon Vickers wasn't appearing at the COC for a specific role, Mansouri replied: "I asked him, but he refused." My father certainly didn't perceive this as a refusal, as the proffered date was less than a year away and he was booked years in advance. Mansouri would have known this and perhaps was just guarding against future criticism. It's a shame his response was not more generous, because it certainly caused a lot of misunderstanding and harm.

The "Vickers won't sing for the COC" myth ballooned to the point of preposterousness. Many believed that he also had decided not to sing in the city of Toronto. A first act of Die Walkiire in 1974 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall was my father's attempt to put an end to this misconception. The concerts were his idea; he arranged, negotiated and financed the whole shebang. Zubin Mehta offered his services at no cost and Birgit Nilsson was so thrilled at the prospect of singing Sieglinde with Dad that she offered her services for a fraction of her standard fee. But the hall and the orchestra had to be paid for, and his efforts to alter public opinion ended up costing him a lot of money. …

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