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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameRubin Ticker

Mini Bio (1)

Brooklyn-born tenor Richard Tucker had a unique dual career. As one of the great voices of the Metropolitan Opera, Tucker made his debut there as Alfredo Germont in Verdi's "La Traviata" in January, 1945, and became a specialist in the Italian and French lyric roles. Among his most famous roles with the company were Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme," B.F. Pinkerton in the same composer's "Madama Butterfly," Don Jose in Bizet's "Carmen," and Radames in Verdi's "Aida." The latter, in addition to many performances at the Met, was also a role he sang in a televised concert performance under Arturo Toscanini and on a special Met broadcast performance in honor of Enrico Caruso's centeniary in February, 1973. Concurrently with his operatic career, Tucker, an Orthodox Jew, was regarded as one of the finest cantors ever, ranked in the company of the great Josef Rosenblatt and Moishe Oysher. His recordings of the cantorial literature on American Columbia records are regarded as among the finest of their kind, and he traveled to Vietnam to preside over High Holy Day services there at the behest of the USO. Although he recorded the role of Canio in Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci" in 1953, he did not perform it on stage until 1970, at which time he scored one of his last great triumphs.

Privately, Tucker was regarded as a warm, friendly man who was devoted to his God and his family. He and the former Sarah Perelmuth (the sister of his Met colleague and rival, Jan Peerce) were married for over thirty years and had three sons and numerous grandchildren. He was also well known for his waggish sense of humor. During the protracted death scene for the baritone in Verdi's "Don Carlo," Tucker, in the title role, leaned over to baritone Robert Merrill and whispered, "Will you hurry up and die? I've got to catch the train for Great Neck in 45 minutes!" Merrill, one of Tucker's closest friends off-stage, had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. In fact, he was in the midst of a concert tour with Merrill when he was found dead of a heart attack in his hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the age of only sixty-one. He was just one week short of celebrating his thirtieth anniversary with the Metropolitan Opera Company, and his funeral service on the Met stage was only the second one ever for a company artist. The first? That of Enrico Caruso, the greatest tenor of all time and one of Tucker's idols.

Today, the most successful American tenor ever to sing with the Met, and one of the greatest American tenors ever, is honored with a portrait at the Met's Founder's Hall. That, and his considerable recorded legacy, will ensure that his name will live forever in operatic and cantorial annals.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Sorrentino

Spouse (1)

Sarah Perelmuth (? - 8 January 1975) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (5)

Pictured on one of a set of four 32¢ US commemorative postage stamps in the Legends of American Music series, issued 10 September 1994, celebrating opera singers. Other singers honored in this issue are Lily Pons, Rosa Ponselle, and Lawrence Tibbett.
Brother-in-law of Jan Peerce.
Refused to make recordings opposite Maria Callas at La Scala in Milan if Herbert von Karajan was to be the conductor. Karajan had been a member of the Nazi Party during World War II and the Holocaust, and Tucker, in protest, refused to work with him. The recordings were made with Tullio Serafin conducting instead.
His last appearance on TV was broadcast two months after his actual death. It was a Boston Pops Concert conducted by Arthur Fiedler, on which Tucker sang his signature piece, "Vesti La Giubba" from "Pagliacci".
A square between streets, actually a very small park, near Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera, is named for him.

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