Jon Vickers, Canadian heldentenor, has died at 88, "after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease," according to the announcement at the Royal Opera House web site.
Vickers was a famed Otello, Tristan, Grimes, Siegmund, and Enée, and sang an extremely wide and unusual repertory that extended as far back as Nerone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and included Laca in Jenufa at a time when Janacek was not seen that often outside central Europe. He was a singer of great concentration and intensity; thoughtful, analytical, and not at all interested in fame, just in his art.
I never saw Vickers live, though he sang until 1988 and certainly there must have been performances of his that I could have seen. On record, some of his vocal tics stand out in ways that make it hard for me to connect with his singing; I also don't know some of his great assumptions, such as Grimes.
But right now he's been very much in my thoughts, as one of the singers who was in the forefront of the revival of Les Troyens. Vickers sang Enée at the Covent Garden performances led by Rafael Kubelik and Colin Davis, which brought Troyens into the public eye and made clear that it's a masterpiece, after so many years of being regarded as a failure.
RIP, Jon Vickers.