A rare document of Jon Vickers. Here, just 29 years old, the Canadian future Heldentenor sings in a live performance from a Montreal studio of Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, broadcast by the CBC and conducted by Otto Werner-Mueller. At the time Vickers was a student at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. The power of his voice and the almost scary intensity of his acting are already evident.
As Vickers described it, "In those days a live broadcast was really murderous. You started at 8 in the morning and had 2 full orchestral rehearsals, a dress rehearsal, and you did a show at night, if you had any voice left. And the circumstances were very difficult because of the primitive quality of the electronics, compared with today."
The original broadcast videotape from 1955 appears to have been transferred to film, then back to video.
Watch videos with other singers performing Vesti la giubba:
Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio, non so più quel che dico, e quel che faccio! Eppur è d'uopo, sforzati! Bah! sei tu forse un uom? Tu se' Pagliaccio!
Vesti la giubba, e la faccia in farina. La gente paga, e rider vuole qua. E se Arlecchin t'invola Colombina, ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà ! Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto;Change into laughs the spasms of pain; in una smorfia il singhiozzo il dolor, Ah! Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
English Libretto or Translation:
To recite! While taken with delirium, I no longer know what it is that I say, or what it is that I am doing! And yet it is necessary, force yourself! Bah! Can't you be a man? You are "Pagliaccio"
Put on the costume, and the face in white powder. The people pay, and laugh when they please. and if Harlequin invites away Colombina laugh, Pagliaccio, and everyone will applaud! into a grimace the tears of pain, Ah!
Laugh, Pagliaccio, for your love is broken! Laugh of the pain, that poisons your heart!