Remembering renowned Canadian tenor Jon Vickers

Opera Lyra joins the operatic world in mourning the passing of renowned Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers.  Mr. Vickers was leading artist of his generation, singing major roles in the great opera houses of Europe and North America.  He blazed an artistic path for subsequent generations of Canadian artists to follow.

Author and former member of the Board of Directors of Opera Lyra, Sarah Jennings,  recalled an appearance for the great singer in Ottawa, “One of Vickers’ most outstanding roles in Canada was  as Hermann in a stunning 1976 production of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades presented at Festival Canada, the National Arts Centre’s summer opera festival. Ever the perfectionist, Vickers arrived for rehearsal with a slight cold and warned conductor Maestro Mario Bernardi that he might not be able to sing.  As Bernardi later related, he was aghast and told Vickers that if he did not appear at the highly-anticipated premiere ‘they would both be lynched.’ Vickers, onstage for the entire opera, did go on and was brilliant in the intensely difficult role.”

John Peter Jeffries, General Director of Opera Lyra said, “Mr. Vickers portrayed his roles with legendary physical stamina, vocal power and emotional intensity.  He was famous for his attention to lyrical detail, striving to impart every word with dramatic impact.  His brilliant and forceful performances along with his sometimes perplexing personality, left lasting impressions on audience members and colleagues alike.  He left a lofty legacy of vocal and dramatic excellence.  He will be missed.”

Jon Vickers, born October 29 1926, died July 10 2015


Founded in 1984 by soprano Diana Gilchrist, Opera Lyra has developed into one of the largest independent performing arts organizations in the National Capital Region, and a highly respected opera company with a strong reputation for showcasing young Canadian singers, many of whom have gone on to make major careers on the international opera stage.  As Opera Lyra nears the conclusion of its third decade, there are many past accomplishments of which Ottawa can be justly proud and the promises of many more to look forward to.