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Great Artists: The Magnificent Richard Tucker


Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti wrote the foreword for the Drake biography of Richard Tucker. Here is an excerpt:

     "For me, Richard Tucker was, and always will be, an 'Italian' tenor. Like Jussi Bjoerling, he proved that one does not have to be Italian-born in order to win the critics and public in the Italian repertoire--which explains the reception Richard was given at his La Scala debut.
     But let us not forget that Richard Tucker was more than one of the greatest 'Italian' tenors of our time. His sense of style was so adaptable, and the timbre of his voice so pure, that he became a great interpreter of French opera, a highly acclaimed oratorio singer, and a widely respected bel canto--I preferred hearing Richard in. But he did each of them so inspiringly that I never really had to choose.
     What made Richard Tucker such a phenomenon?
     First and foremost were his voice and technique. His voice was not only beautiful--shimmering, silvery, and very powerful--but also incredibly enduring. For thirty years his voice remained youthful and vibrant, and his technique as close to perfect as one can get. Considering the length of his career and the diverse repertoire he sang, I dare say that not ten tenors could have kept their voices so fresh so long.
     Yet his voice alone does not entirely explain his great success. We have to look also at Richard Tucker the man for a complete explanation....I found him to be a superb colleague--always encouraging, always ready to share the wealth of performing knowledge he had amassed during his long career.
     As a man, Richard was an intriguing combination of qualities. He was not only a great artist, but was also a very caring, very sweet, man who took people into his heart just as they took him into theirs. Any artist who gives himself to the public--and who gives his best every time he steps onto a stage--will never be disappointed by the public. Richard Tucker gave himself to his public, and his public not only admired him but loved him for it....

La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini
Richard Tucker as Rodolfo

     One of my fondest memories of Richard's singing came near the end of his long career, in a matinee performance of La Bohème broadcast 'live' from the Metropolitan. Because Rodolfo is very dear to me, I listened to the broadcast and was utterly astonished at the style, lyrical approach, and the sheer beauty of voice Richard brought to the role. By the time the broadcast ended, I was so moved that I telephoned him in his dressing room.
     'This afternoon you've showed us again,' I said, 'that you are the master of us all.'
     In death, as in life, Richard Tucker is still a master, still a model and inspiration. May the memory of the man and the artist endure as long as opera itself."



Great Artist Series

 The Yiddish World

The Magnificent
Richard Tucker
in Gounod's

Richard Tucker
as Radames
in Verdi's

Richard Tucker
as the Duke of Mantua
in Verdi's


Richard Tucker
in Halévy's
"La Juive"

Richard Tucker
as Tamino
in Mozart's
"Magic Flute"

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