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Richard Tucker

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Richard Tucker (August 28, 1913 – January 8, 1975) was an American tenor.

He was born Ruvn Ticker in Brooklyn, New York, and his musical aptitude was discovered early. His first job was as a boy alto at the Lower East Side Manhattan Synagogue. He sang often for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and eventually became a cantor at the Brooklyn Jewish Center. He participated in the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1941, but did not win. However, when Met general manager Edward Johnson heard him sing at the synagogue, he offered him a contract on the spot. His debut was as Enzo in La Gioconda in 1945. This led to a long career with the Met. He performed over 30 roles on its stage. In 1949 Tucker was selected by Arturo Toscanini to sing the role of Radames for the NBC broadcasts of Aida.

Even at the height of his fame, he regularly conducted synagogue services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

He married Sarah Perelmuth, the sister of tenor Jan Peerce. She attended every performance.

Tucker had a propensity for playing pranks on his fellow singers, often provoking a smile at some inappropriate moment in a performance; once during a performance of La Forza del Destino with Robert Merrill, he’d sneaked a nude photograph into the trunk that Merrill was supposed to open.

He died of a heart attack while preparing for a concert with Robert Merrill in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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