Canadian opera singer John Vickers, nicknamed “God’s tenor” for his voice and Christian beliefs, has died at the age of 88, according to London’s Royal Opera House.
The opera cited a statement from Vickers’s family, which said he died Friday after a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in Prince Albert, Sask., Vickers studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and made his Royal Opera debut in 1957.
A year later, he performed at Germany’s Bayreuth festival, becoming one of the world’s leading Wagnerian performers, acclaimed as Siegmund in Die Walkuere.
From 1960, he was a regular at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where his signature roles included the lead in Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.
Vickers retired in 1988.
He is survived by a sister, five children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His family released a statement describing how critics reacted to his impressive talent over the years.
“Reviewers revelled in metaphoric descriptions of Vickers’ unique voice,” it said.
The statement also noted that critic John Ardoin in 1971 described the tenor’s voice as “towering” and “achingly beautiful.”
Another reviewer, Herbert Breslin, described “an iron column that weeps tears” and, after a 1964 performance of Wagner’s Parsifal, Peter Diggins wrote that “the audience gasped at the sheer beauty of the Canadian’s voice.”