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David Royko Psy.D

Jon Vickers the Annoyed Tristan 1926-2015

Jon Vickers, October 29, 1926 ? July 10, 2015

I just heard that my favorite tenor (along with Pavarotti), Jon Vickers, died today at 88. When I worked at WFMT, Vickers was a guest on Studs Terkel's show. Afterwards, as Vickers and Studs were heading out the door for lunch, Studs asked if I wanted to come along. I did not say no, and it was one of the most thrilling experiences of my time at WFMT. And Vickers was as friendly a guy as I've ever met. He was in Chicago singing Tristan und Isolde at the Chicago Lyric Opera at the time (November, 1979), and the performance I attended was terrific ? no, pretty amazing really. But even better, I was at two rehearsals, including a dress rehearsal. WFMT recorded some rehearsals to set levels before the opening night broadcast, so I tagged along with the engineers. A very memorable moment: As Tristan/Vickers lay dying, he kept pummeling a piece of errant floor scenery that was by his head, trying to push it into its proper place. Over and over and over, it kept popping back up and Vickers kept pounding it back down as he belted out those gloriously expressive heldentenor tones of his. Vickers was really getting annoyed as I tried like crazy to suppress a bellylaughing fit.

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