Jonathan Stewart Vickers, CC (born October 29, 1926), known professionally as Jon Vickers, is a retired Canadian heldentenor.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, he was the sixth in a family of eight children. In 1950, he was awarded a scholarship to study opera at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. In 1957 Vickers joined London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden company. In 1960 he joined the Metropolitan Opera. He became world famous for a wide range of German, French and Italian roles. Vickers' huge, powerful voice and solid technique met the demands of many French, German and Italian roles. He was also highly regarded for his powerful stage presence and thoughtful characterizations.
In 1968 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Vickers studied with George Lambert at The Royal Conservatory of Music and sang professionally in Canada from the early- to mid-1950s. His international career began with his 1957 Covent Garden Riccardo in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. He continued to appear there into the 1980s, putting his personal stamp on the roles of Énée in Berlioz's Les Troyens, Radamès in Aida, the title role in Don Carlos, Handel's Samson, Florestan in Fidelio, Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, Canio in Pagliacci, and the title role in Britten's Peter Grimes. Some critics praised Vickers' Tristan as the best since Lauritz Melchior's.
He debuted at the Bayreuth Festival in 1958 as Siegmund in Die Walküre and sang Parsifal there in 1964. Later negotiations with Wieland Wagner concerning appearances as Siegfried in Götterdämmerung ended with Wieland's death in 1966. His debut role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1960 was Canio in Pagliacci. He appeared at the Met for 22 seasons in 277 performances of 17 roles, including Florestan in Fidelio, Siegmund, Don Jose in Carmen, Radamès in Aida, Erik in The Flying Dutchman, Herman in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades, the Samsons of both Handel and Saint-Saëns, Otello, Don Alvaro in La forza del destino, Peter Grimes, Énée in Les Troyens, Tristan, Laca in Jenůfa, Vasek in The Bartered Bride, and Parsifal, giving his farewell in 1987. At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London he sang Tristan, Britten's Peter Grimes (and changed the concept of this part forever), Handel's Samson - and, above all, Énée. He later recorded Énée with Sir Colin Davis. In 1959 he was the tenor in a legendary and controversial recording of Handel's Messiah with Sir Thomas Beecham.
Although scheduled to sing Tannhäuser at Covent Garden in the late 1970s, Vickers dropped out, claiming he could not empathize with the character. He did, however, sing Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea at the Paris Opéra, plus Alvaro in La forza del destino at the Met (1975). His roles also included Don Carlos, Andrea Chenier, Herod in Salome, Giasone in Medea (with Maria Callas in the title role), Pollione in Norma and such rarely heard parts as Cellini in Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini, Ratan-Sen in Roussel's Padmavati and Sergei in Shostakovitch's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Many critics praised his interpretation of Verdi's Otello, which he recorded twice: in 1960 with Tullio Serafin and 1973 with Herbert von Karajan.
Vickers starred in made-for-television films of his Pagliacci and Otello, both conducted by Karajan, and premiered the 1978 season of Live from the Met with Otello.
Vickers further sang at the 'home' of Italian opera, Milan's La Scala, as well as in the major opera houses of Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival. He retired in 1988.
In 1998, he made his first recording as a reciter, in Richard Strauss's melodrama Enoch Arden, accompanied on piano by Marc-André Hamelin.
In 1953 he married Henrietta (Hetty) Outerbridge. They had five children.