Richard Tucker was a leading tenor for the Metropolitan Opera for 30 years. Only two other star singers in the company’s 90‐year history—Giovanni Martinelli, the tenor, and Antonio Scotti, the baritone—lasted longer in the cruelly competitive Metropolitan arena, Martinelli for 32 seasons and Scotti for 34.

Mr. Tucker made Ills Metropolitan debut on Jan. 25, 1945, in the role of Enzo in “La Gioconda.” In all, he sang more than 30 leading roles with the company.

Je crois entendre encore

À cette voix quel trouble agitait tout mon être?
Quel fol espoir? Comment ai-je cru reconnaître?
Hélas! devant mes yeux déjà, pauvre insensé,
La même vision tant de fois a passé!
Non, non, c’est le remords, la fièvre, la délire!
Zurga doit tout savoir, j’aurais tout lui dire!
Parjure à mon serment, j’ai voulu la revoir!
J’ai decouvert sa trace, et j’ai suivi ses pas!
Et caché dans la nuit et soupirant tout bas,
J’écoutais ses doux chants emportés dans l’espace.

Je crois entendre encore
Cachée sous les palmiers
Sa voix tendre et sonore
Comme un chant de ramiers.

Oh, nuit enchanteresse,
Divin ravissement
Oh, souvenir charmant,
Folle ivresse, doux rêve !

Aux clartés des étoiles
Je crois encor la voir
Entr’ouvrir ses longs voiles
Aux vents tièdes du soir.

Oh, nuit enchanteresse,
Divin ravissement
Oh, souvenir charmant,
Folle ivresse, doux rêve !

Charmant Souvenir !
Charmant Souvenir !

I Believe I Still Hear (from the Pearl Fishers by Bizet)

What a turmoil within my whole being, at the sound of her voice!
What mad hope is this! How could I think I had recognized?…
Alas, before my poor insane eyes, already,
this same vision has too often floated by.
No, no, this is remorse, fever, madness!
Zurga must know everything! I should have told him all!
Breaking my troth, I tried to see her again;
I discovered her trail and I followed her;
hidden in the night and sighing under my breath,
I listened to her sweet chants borne away into space…

I believe I still hear
Hidden under the palms
Her voice, tender and sonorous
Like a song of the wood pigeons

Oh, bewitching night
Divine rapture!
Oh, charming memory,
Intoxicating madness, sweet dream!

In the starlight
I believe I still see her
Half-opening her long veil
To the warm evening winds

Oh, bewitching night,
Divine rapture!
Oh, charming memory,
Intoxicating madness, sweet dream!

Enchanting memory!
Enchanting memory!

I posted this particular selection in 2018. I think that it deserves posting again, since we are discussing Tucker.

Rodolfo 
(tenendo la mano di Mimì, con
voce piena di emozione!) Che gelida manina. 
Se la lasci riscaldar.
 Cercar che giova?
 Al buio non si trova. 
Ma per fortuna
è una notte di luna,
e qui la luna
 l’abbiamo vicina.
(mentre Mimì cerca di ritare la mano)
Aspetti, signorina,
le dirò con due parole
, chi son, e che faccio,
come vivo. Vuole?
(Mimì tace: Rodolfo lascia la
 mano di Mimì, la quale indietreggiando
trova una sedia sulla quale si lascia
quasi cadere affranta dall’emozione)
Chi son?
Sono un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo.
E come vivo? Vivo!
In povertà mia lieta
scialo da gran signore
rime ed inni d’amore.
Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria,
l’anima milionaria.
Talor dal mio forziere
ruban tutti i gioelli
due ladri, gli occhi belli.
V’entrar con voi pur ora,
ed i miei sogni usati
e i bei sogni miei,
tosto si dileguar!
Ma il furto non m’accora,
poiché, v’ha preso stanza
la dolce speranza!
Or che mi conoscete,
parlate voi. Deh! Parlate.
Chi siete? Vi piaccia dir!
Mimì (È un po’ titubante, poi si decide
a parlare; sempre seduta)
Sì, Mi chiamano Mimì,
ma il mio nome è Lucia.
La storia mia è breve:
a tela o a seta
ricamo in casa e fuori…
Son tranquilla e lieta
ed è mio svago
far gigli e rose.
Mi piaccion quelle cose
che han sì dolce malìa,
che parlano d’amor, di primavere,
di sogni e di chimere,
quelle cose che han nome poesia…
Lei m’intende?
Rodolfo Si.
Mimì
 Mi chiamano Mimì,
il perchè non so.
 Sola, mi fo
 il pranzo da me stessa.
Non vado sempre a messa,
 ma prego assai il Signore.
 Vivo sola, soletta là in una bianca cameretta:
guardo sui tetti e in cielo;
 ma quando vien lo sgelo
 il primo sole è mio
 il primo bacio dell’aprile è mio!
 Germoglia in un vaso una rosa…
Foglia a foglia la spio!
 Così gentile il profumo d’un fiore!
 Ma i fior ch’io faccio,
 ahimè! non hanno odore.
 Altro di me non le
 saprei narrare.
Sono la sua vicina 
che la vien fuori
d’ora a importunare.

Rodolfo O soave fanciulla
di mite circonfuso alba lunar
in te, vivo ravviso
il sogno ch’io vorrei sempre sognar!
(cingendo con le braccia Mimì)
Fremon già nell’anima
le dolcezze estreme,
nel bacio freme amor!
La bacia

Mimì — (assai commossa)
 Ah! tu sol comandi, amor!
Rodolfo (cingendo colle braccia Mimì). Fremon già nell’anima 
le dolcezze estreme.
Mimì quasi abbandonandosi
(Oh! come dolci scendono
le sue lusinghe al core…
tu sol comandi, amore!…)
Rodolfo. Nel bacio freme amor!
(Rodolfo bacia Mimì)
Mimì — (svincolandosi)
 No, per pietà!
Rodolfo
 Sei mia!

Mimì 
V’aspettan gli amici…
Rodolfo
 Già mi mandi via?
Mimì — (titubante)
 Vorrei dir… ma non oso…
Rodolfo — (con gentilezza)
Mimì — (con graziosa furberia)
 Se venissi con voi?
Rodolfo — (sorpreso)
 Che?… Mimì!
(insinuante)
 Sarebbe così dolce restar qui.
C’è freddo fuori.
Mimì — (con grande abbandono)
 Vi starò vicina!…
Rodolfo
 E al ritorno?
Mimì — (maliziosa)
 Curioso!
Rodolfo
 (Aiuta amorosamente Mimì
a mettersi lo scialle)
 Dammi il braccio, mia piccina.
Mimì – (Dà il braccio a Rodolfo) 
Obbedisco, signor!
(S’avviano sottobraccio
alla porta d’uscita)
Rodolfo
 Che m’ami di’…
Mimì — (con abbandono)
Io t’amo!
(escono)
Mimì e Rodolfo — (di fuori)
Amor! Amor! Amor!

Rodolfo 
(Holding Mimì’s hand in a 
voice that’s full of emotion) This little hand is frozen,
let me warm it here in mine.
 What’s the use of searching?
 It’s far too dark to find it.
 But by our good fortune,
it’s a night lit by the moon,
and up here the moon 
is our closest of neighbors.(As Mimì tries to withdraw her hand)
One moment, Miss,
let me tell you in just two words,
who I am, what I do,
and how I live. Would you like that??
(Mimì says nothing: Rodolfo lets go 
of Mimì’s hand.
 Full of emotion she reaches back
 for a chair upon which to drop)
Who am I?
I am a poet.
What do I do here? I Write.
And how do I live? I live
in my contented poverty,
as if a grand lord, I squander
odes and hymns of love.
In my dreams and reveries,
I build castles in the air,
where in spirit I am a millionaire.
Yet sometimes from my safe,
all my gems are stolen
by two thieves, a pair of lovely eyes!
They entered with you just now!
Now all past dreams have disappeared.
Beautiful dreams I’d cherished,
immediately vanished without a trace!
But the theft does not wound me deeply,
because, in their room they have
been replaced by sweet hope!
Now you know all about me.
Will you tell me who you are?
Will you say? Please do tell!
Mimì (She is a little hesitant, then decides
to speak; sitting throughout)
Yes, they always called Mimi,
but my real name is Lucia.
This story of mine is brief:
To linen and silk I embroider,
at my home or away…
I have a quiet, but happy life,
and my pastime
is making lilies and roses.
I delight in these pleasures.
These things have such sweet charm,
they speak of love, of Spring,
of dreams and visions and
the things that have poetic names.
Do you understand me?
Rodolfo Yes.
Mimì
 They always call me Mimi,
I know not why!
 All alone
 I make myself dinner.
I don’t attend mass often,
but I pray to the Lord frequently.
I live by myself, all alone,
in my little white room.
I look upon the roofs and the sky.
But when the thaw comes,
the first warmth of the sun is mine,
the first kiss of April is mine!
 In a vase a rose blooms,
I watch as petal by petal unfolds,
with its delicate fragrance of a flower!
But the flowers that I sew,
alas, have no fragrance.
There’s nothing more
I can tell you about myself.
I am your neighbor, who knocks 
at your door so late disturbing
 you at an inopportune moment.

Rodolfo. Oh! lovely girl! Oh, sweet face
bathed in the soft moonlight.
I see in you the dream
I’d dream forever!

Mimì (Ah! Love, you rule alone!…)

Rodolfo Already I taste in spirit
The heights of tenderness!

Mimì (You rule alone, O Love!)

Rodolfo Already I taste in spirit
the heights of tenderness!
Love trembles in our kiss!

Mimì (How sweet his praises
enter my heart …
Love, you alone rule!)

(Rodolfo kisses her.)

Mimì No, please!
Rodolfo You’re mine!
Mimì Your friends are waiting.
Rodolfo You send me away already?
Mimì I daren’t say what I’d like …
Rodolfo Tell me.
Mimì If I were to come with you?
Rodolfo What? Mimì!
It would be so fine to stay here.
Outside it’s cold.
Mimì I’d be near you!
Rodolfo And when we come back?
Mimì Who knows?
Rodolfo Give me your arm, my dear …
Mimì I obey
Rodolfo Tell me you love me!
Mimì I love you.
Rodolfo and Mimì
(Exeunt)
My love! My love!

Se quel guerrier
Io fossi! se il mio sogno
S’avverasse!… Un esercito di prodi
Da me guidato… e la vittoria… e il plauso
Di Menfi tutta! E a te, mia dolce Aida,
Tornar di lauri cinto…
Dirti: per te ho pugnato, per to ho vinto!
Celeste Aida, forma divina.
Mistico serto di luce e fior,
Del mio pensiero tu sei regina,
Tu di mia vita sei lo splendor.
Il tuo bel cielo vorrei redarti,
Le dolci brezze del patrio suol;
Un regal serta sul crin posarti,
Ergerti un trono vicino al sol.

Celestial Aida

If only I were that warrior!
If only my dream might come true!
An army of brave men with me as their leader
And victory and the applause of all Memphis!
And to you, my sweet Aida,
To return crowned with laurels,
To tell you: for you, I have fought,
For you, I have conquered!
Heavenly Aida, divine form,
Mystical garland of light and flowers,
You are queen of my thoughts,
You are the splendor of my life.
I want to give you back your beautiful sky,
The sweet breezes of your native land,
To place a royal garland on your hair,
To raise you a throne next to the sun.

Richard Tucker

Tucker’s voice was generally ranked among the finest natural tenor instruments of his time.

Tucker was born in Brooklyn on August 28, 1914, the son of Jewish immigrant parents, who named him Reuben Ticker. His father who had come to this country from the Romanian province of Bessarabia, was a Manhattan fur worker and sometimes officiated as cantor in his synagogue.

At the age of 6, Tucker was singing alto and caught the notice of Joshua Samuel Weisser, cantor of the Allen Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side. At his death, he was still an ordained cantor who sang during High Holy Day services.

Mr. Tucker’s operatic career was, in a sense, an accident of marriage. Thirty‐five years ago, he met Sara Perelmuth, who was the sister of Jan Peerce, already a well‐known tenor.

At the time a $25‐a‐week fur salesman, Mr. Tucker proposed marriage to Sara on a BMT subway platform, and she accepted, even though he was not considered a great catch by her well‐off family.

Soon, Mr. Tucker found himself in a friendly rivalry with his brother‐in‐law and made up his mind that he too could become a famous singer. He began, taking voice lessons from the Wagnerian tenor Paul Althouse, impressing that artist with his determination.

Until his marriage, Mr. Tucker had never seen a Metropolitan Opera performance. After several years of study, however, he entered the Metropolitan Auditions of the Air and won a second prize. A job with the Chicago Theater of the Air on radio station WGN followed (he sang condensed versions of operas and operettas).

It was in 1944, finally, that Mr. Tucker, having refused to enter the Met’s Auditions of the Air for a second try, managed to persuade Edward Johnson, the company’s manager; to audition him on the Met stage. Mr. Johnson ordered the novice to learn the part of Enzo in “La Gioconda” and came back. When he made his debut’ a year later in the role, delegations from Brooklyn and the garment industry were there to cheer him on.

Mr. Tucker was one of an illustrious group of American singers who were brought into the Metropolitan in the nineteen‐thirties and forties ‘during the Edward Johnson era. Among, the others who, broke tradition by being’ mostly American trained, were Leonard Warren, Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Helen Traubel, Eleanor Steber, Rise Stevens, Blanche Thebom and Roberta Peters.

Although he appeared on occasion in European opera houses such as La Scala in Milan, where he made his debut in 1969, Mr. Tucker’s career centered on the Metropolitan.

Among his early glories was his selection by Arturo Toscanini in 1949 to sing Radames in “Aida” in the Italian maestro’s first nationwide opera broadcast. Among his frivolities was the time he broke into Italian for a famous aria during an English‐language performance of “Martha” in 1961.

Tucker died on January 8, 1975, aged 60, of a heart attack.