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Sunday, February 18, 2018
The date, January 10, 1975. On the stage of the Metropolitan Opera lay the coffin of tenor Richard Tucker, after 738 Met Opera performances. Many considered him the greatest operatic tenor after Enrico Caruso. For 30 years a leading tenor with the Met Opera, Tucker died of a heart attack at age 60 in his hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he was to have appeared in an evening concert with baritone Robert Merrill, who was touring with him. At that time Tucker had appeared in 30 Met Opera seasons. In the companies then 90 year history this was more than only two other tenors: Giovanni Martinelli for 32 seasons and Antonio Scotti for 34.In the forward of the Tucker book, Luciano Pavarotti wrote: No one who was at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on the night of May 20, 1969, will ever forget the ovation the Italian audience gave Richard Tucker. I know I will never forget it, because I was there. Along with hundreds and hundreds of others who came to hear Richard in Luisa Miller that night, I too shouted 'Bravissimo!' the moment Richard finished singing 'Quando le sere al placido'. I was also singing at La Scala that season, and I can attest that the reception which greeted Richard Tucker went well beyond anything I had ever seen. The audience didn't merely applaud, they erupted - there is no better word for it. The people screamed. They stamped their feet. They tore up their programs and showered him with confetti.