OP0095. LA JUIVE, Live Performance, 4 March, 1973, Royal Festival Hall, London, w.Guadagno Cond.Richard Tucker, Yasuko Hayashi, David Gwynne, Michelle le Bris, etc. 2-Legato LCD-120. Final ever-so-slightly used copy!
“American tenor Richard Tucker made his Metropolitan Opera début 25 January, 1945 as Enzo in Ponchielli's LA GIOCONDA. It was the start of a Met career that lasted just a few weeks short of thirty years, encompassing more than 700 performances in 30 different roles. Despite all of the triumphs for Tucker there was one ambition that remained unfulfilled. He long dreamed of performing the role of the Jewish goldsmith Eléazar in Jacques Fromental Halévy's LA JUIVE at the Met. It is easy to understand why Eléazar so appealed to Tucker. It was Enrico Caruso's last new role at the Metropolitan Opera, indeed, the his final performance, on Christmas Eve, 1920. Tucker, a devout Jew who continued to perform as a cantor even after the onset of his spectacular operatic career, relished the opportunity to sing a dramatic role that includes the leading of a Passover Seder.
Tucker did appear in LA JUIVE on several occasions—at Carnegie Hall in 1964, London and New Orleans in 1973, and Barcelona in 1974. However, Tucker's continued requests to stage LA JUIVE at the Met encountered considerable resistance. The Met was unwilling to chance the expense of producing what they viewed as an obscure 19th century French grand opera. Just after New Year's Day, 1975, Richard Tucker learned that finally, in honor of his 30th anniversary, the Met would stage LA JUIVE as part of its 1975-76 season. In addition to Tucker, the cast would include Beverly Sills, Nicolai Gedda and Paul Plishka, with Leonard Bernstein conducting. Tucker was scheduled to meet with the Met management 9 January, following his return from a joint recital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his dear friend, baritone Robert Merrill. But on 8 January, during the afternoon preceding the concert, Richard Tucker suffered a fatal heart attack, and died at the age of 61.
Although the Met LA JUIVE never came to fruition, several recordings do allow us to evaluate Tucker's assumption of the role of Eléazar. The tenor recorded extended excerpts for RCA in 1974. In addition, recordings of the New Orleans and London productions have circulated for many years on private labels.
The London performance offers a vivid representation of Tucker's memorable assumption of this role. It would be dishonest to suggest that the 60-year old Tucker sounds as he did in earlier decades. Still, it is hard to think of any other tenor in his seventh decade who sang with such beauty of tone, power, and security throughout all registers. Indeed, Tucker's vocalism would be the envy of most tenors many years his junior. The recording is surprisingly good for an opera of this vintage and provenance. Apart from some blasting during the overture, it is clear and easy to understand, and the orchestra is well led by Anton Guadagno. Tucker sounds terrific as Éléazar and is obviously pouring his all into it.”
- Uncle Dave Lewis