What matters to you.

Richard Tucker

tenor, opera

Richard Tucker is today primarily associated with the history of opera in America- a highly gifted tenor, he is compared to Franco Corelli in influence and appeal, and classed with people like Alfredo Kraus and Nicolai Gedda. But Tucker, as a Jewish American who came to music from a religious background, had an output different from all of those others, and, ironically, was just as well known in the United States- and perhaps even more beloved- for that other side of his work. He was born in New York, and at age six joined the choir of an Orthodox Jewish synogogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as a boy alto. Over the next eight years, he sang at weddings and other events and became steeped in Jewish liturgy and the musical traditions of the synogogue -- only the inevitable change to his voice interrupted his vocalizing, and from ages 14 through 18 he abandoned singing. By the time he reached 18, however, his adult voice had settled into a rich tenor, and it was in that capacity that he returned to his old synogogue. Eventually, Tucker sang around the world, his debut in Italy coming in the same production in which Maria Callas made her debut; he sang at Covent Garden in 1957, and in Vienna in 1958, and at La Scala in Milan in 1969. Tucker remained uniquely popular in America, however, and even more so in New York. He passed away in 1975 at age 61. His funeral service was held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, and in his memory the Richard Tucker Foundation awards a prize each year to a promising potential.