Jan Peerce, Neil Shicoff & The Roles They Shared

By David Salazar

Jan Peerce and Neil Shicoff are two of the great tenors in the history of opera, and they were born just one day—and 45 years—apart.

Peerce’s birthday is on June 3, 1904, while Shicoff’s is June 2, 1949. If you’ve read our previous work, you know what to expect here: an examination of the operas and composers that united these two great and eternal artists.


Let’s get this one out of the way.  Both singers have built legacies due to their work in Verdi. Verdi’s “Rigoletto” has been a mainstay of Shicoff’s repertoire, especially during his time at the Met. But Shicoff also made his professional debut in “Ernani” and made a name for himself in “Luisa Miller.” He has also done “Simon Boccanegra,” “La Traviata,” “Macbeth,” and “Aroldo.”

Peerce was Toscanini’s go-to Verdi tenor, recording “La Traviata,” “Un Ballo in Maschera,” and parts of “Rigoletto” along with other collaborations. He sang “Rigoletto” in Philadelphia and was offered “Aida,” “Otello,” and “Falstaff” with Toscanini but turned down the offers, believing his voice did not suit those operas.


 Peerce’s Met Opera career consisted of roles in such operas as “Tosca” and “La Bohème.” He also sang Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly” and recorded it.

“La Bohème” was one of the roles that Shicoff made his own at the Met, singing it 16 times with the company. He actually made his debut with the company in “Gianni Schicchi” and would go on to record “Il Tabarro.”


 Both artists performed the Gounod opera extensively, particularly during their time at the Met. Shicoff took on the tragic hero seven times in New York, while Peerce sang it eight times.

Did we miss any operas that both of these great artists sang? Let us know in the comments below!



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