Richard Tucker Day in New York and Beyond

Richard Tucker died in 1975. His 100th birthday is celebrated August 28, Richard Tucker Day in New York(Photo: Courtesy photo)
Richard Tucker died in 1975. His 100th birthday is celebrated August 28, Richard Tucker Day in New York(Photo: Courtesy photo)

Tenor Richard Tucker’s (1913-1976) 100th birthday is August 28. His centennial is being celebrated in his hometown and across the world.

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation has for years provided important financial support to emerging artists, Joyce Di Donato, David Daniels,  Renee Fleming and Deborah Voigt among them.

The Foundation’s work and the upcoming centennial celebrations are detailed at www.richardtucker.org

Born Reuben Ticker on Manhattan’s lower east side, Richard Tucker worked in the garment district while singing as a cantor and preparing for what would become an outstanding career in opera and concert. He gave over 700 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, from his debut in 1945 to his final performance a few weeks before his death. The huge Italian operas, Aida, Il trovatore, La Gioconda, Andrea Chenier, Manon Lescaut, Tosca and many more were his to command. Tucker as Canio in Pagliacci was for years the hottest ticket in New York:

It was Richard Tucker’s dream to sing the role of Eleazar in Halevy’s La Juive  at the Met. The role of the Jewish goldsmith, which was Caruso’s last opera back in 1920 was beloved by Tucker. He sang it in concert in New York and later in London and Spain. The opera at the Met, alas, eluded him.

Richard Tucker is the only artist whose funeral was held in the Metropolitan Opera House (January 10, 1975) He was Maria Callas’s tenor at her first important engagements in 1947-and he was her last tenor in New York in 1965. The story is told that Callas, who was nervous for this late career performance said, “Richard how is it I always feel so safe singing with you?” “Because, Mary baby” the tenor replied, “When you sing with me you sing in the big leagues”.

Here he is with his colleague and buddy, the great Robert Merrill in 1972. These two old pros show the world how it’s done.

August 28, 2013 is officially Richard Tucker Day Day in New York. Richard Tucker Square at Broadway and 73rd will no doubt be loaded down with flowers. There will be broadcast concerts and events galore. You can find great performances by Tucker on youtube any time. He was the real deal.

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