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The World's Greatest Tenors - Richard Tucker

Updated on December 18, 2012

Richard Tucker

Richard Tucker Publicity Photo
Richard Tucker Publicity Photo | Source
Richard Tucker in Rigaletto
Richard Tucker in Rigaletto
Tucker Meets Mario Lanza
Tucker Meets Mario Lanza
The Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera
Richard Tucker Monument
Richard Tucker Monument


The World’s Greatest Tenors – Richard Tucker


When I moved to Newburgh, NY, in 1962, fresh out of college, one of the first things I did was to buy a portable stereo record player. I joined a record club and began to collect 78 stereo LPs. My chief interest was in classical recordings.


Listening to Mario Lanza sing operatic arias had awakened my interest in tenors. Although I never had the patience to collect and listen to entire operas, I did enjoy opera highlights particularly the arias.


At that time, the main man at the Met was Richard Tucker. Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavoratti did not make their debuts until 1968. Sometime in the 1960s, Richard Tucker and Leontyne Price made an album with highlights from Madam Butterfly, I purchased the album through my record club. I immediately fell in love with both of their voices. Even today, their recording of the love duet from Act I is one of my all time favorite recordings, so I have provided a link to it at the end of this hub.


Richard Tucker was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 28, 1913, the son of Romanian Jews. He showed a talent for singing in the first grade and began training to be a cantor. On February 11, 1936, he married Sara Perelmuth whose parents were also Romanian Jews. Sara’s older brother, Yacob, was a national radio star and was studying to be an opera singer. He later changed his name to Jan Peerce and made his debut at the Met in 1941. I have already published a hub about Jan Peerce.


On January 25, 1945, Richard Tucker also made his debut at the Met in La Giaconda, He continued to perform there for more than 30-years for a combined total of 734 performances both in New York and on the road. During those years, numerous tenors came and went, but Richard Tucker remained.


Before and after each opera season, Tucker appeared on concert stages throughout America, helping to introduce many Americans to opera for the first time. Throughout his career, he also officiated as a cantor during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and other sacred Jewish events. He had a long running contract with Columbia Records and later with RCA Victor as well.


On January 28, 1975, Richard Tucker was traveling with Robert Merrill in a nationwide concert tour, when he died of a heart attack shortly before a performance in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His funeral was held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera and the City of New York designated the park adjacent to Lincoln Center as Richard Tucker Square.


The songs that he performs in the videos that follows are:

E lucevan le stelle (from Tosca)

Nessun Dorma (from Turnadot) and

Sunrise , sunset (from Fiddler on the Roof)


Richard Tucker and Lyontene Price


I can think of no better way to end this hub than to play the love duet from Act 1 of Madam Butterfly sung by Richard Tucker and Leontyne Price. So sit back and listen while a black woman and a Jew sing Italian opera set in Japan.




To visit my complete list of the world’s best tenors along with limited biographical information and links to their individual Hubs, go to:

The Worlds Greatest Tenors


Newburgh, New York where I first heard Richard Tucker sing and Brooklyn, New York where he was born.

Newburgh, New York:
Newburgh, NY, USA

get directions

Brooklyn, New York:
Brooklyn, NY, USA

get directions


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    • collegatariat profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never heard of Richard Tucker before! Thanks for introducing him to me-- so informative, and a great way to find some true greats. Great hub!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and thank you for another well written and informative hub. Another tenor I'd never heard of. I really love that your doing these pieces. It's like a fast opera course online.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      7 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great hub, however sad for me that I havn't heard of him. Voted up and interesting, Joyce.


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