Jan Peerce

3 June 1904 New York City – 15 December 1984 New Rochelle

Picture of Jan Peerce

Picture of Jan Peerce as Alfredo

Picture of Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce in Interview (1977)
In RA format

Born Jacob Pincus Perelmuth to immigrants from today Belarus, he was a choirboy at a synagogue, and at age 15, already a violinist and singer with a dance band. Later on, he studied voice and became a professional singer in 1932 – first only on the radio, where he gained enormous popularity, and in concert.

His stage debut followed in 1938 in Philadelphia, as Duca. From 1941 to 1966, he was a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera. He was the favorite tenor of old Arturo Toscanini. His most important tour abroad was as an official US "cultural ambassador" in 1956, at the Bolshoj in Moscow, at the Leningrad and Kyiv opera theaters. Often, he also sang in San Francisco. His repertory ranged from Alfredo to Alvaro, from Ottavio to Florestan, from Gounod's to Boito's Faust.

He sang "Fiddler on the roof" on Broadway (1971), and made the occasional public appearance until 1982. His voice was intact, as proven by two LPs recorded at age 76.

For me, Peerce has always been a possible genius marred by almost criminal negligence, like in "I'm certainly able to produce a beautiful tone, but why should I if it's less strenuous to flout it?"

He was the brother-in-law of his Met tenor colleague Richard Tucker.

Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens, reference 2

Jan Peerce singsPagliacci: Vesti la giubba

Jan Peerce singsRigoletto: La donna è mobile

Jan Peerce singsHills

Jan Peerce singsAy, ay, ay

Jan Peerce sings Yehi rotzon (Ganchoff)
In RA format

Jan Peerce sings Shma Yisroel (Ellstein)
In RA format
Much like Tucker, Peerce is absolutely excellent as a cantor, and the recording made at age 76 (Yehi rotzon) is simply amazing.
Jan Peerce sings Something in the night (Weirick & Kresa)
In RA format

Jan Peerce sings Das Land des Lächelns: Yours is my heart alone
In RA format

Jan Peerce sings Turandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format

Jan Peerce sings Il trovatore: Di quella pira

Jan Peerce sings Fidelio: Gott, welch Dunkel hier
In RA format
I would like to thank Anton Bieber for the label scans and recordings (Rigoletto, Pagliacci, Hills and Ay, ay, ay).
I wish to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the pictures and the recordings (Turandot, Fidelio, Das Land des Lächelns, Something in the night, interview).

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