|Year of Birth:||1949|
Neil Shicoff (born June 2, 1949) is an American Jewish opera singer and cantor known for his lyric tenor singing and his dramatic, emotional acting.
Neil Shicoff was born in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music, with his father, the hazzan Sidney Shicoff and others, including Franco Corelli in the early 1980s. He sang in small theatres in New York before music school, including a Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen at Amato Opera and small roles at Juilliard, and was an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera in the summer of 1973. His professional debut as a tenor lead in a big opera house was in the title role in Verdi's Ernani, conducted by James Levine in Cincinnati in 1975.
In 1976, Shicoff made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi conducted by Levine. Shicoff was then engaged by the Met to sing the tenor leads in Rigoletto, La Bohème, Der Rosenkavalier, and Werther, which was to become one of his signature roles. He soon sang in the major opera houses in the U.S. and Europe, winning great notices and recording some of his roles. Shicoff experienced severe stage fright well into his career, which caused him to cancel a number of performances. He was known to be a perfectionist, carefully researching and preparing each role, both dramatically and vocally.
In 1978, Shicoff married fellow Juilliard graduate, lyric soprano Judith Haddon. After the death of his mother in 1984, Shicoff suffered emotional problems, technical vocal difficulties and increasing performance anxiety. He cancelled numerous performances, and by the end of the 1980s he had developed a reputation for unreliability.