Peerce, Jan

SKU: PH176


Jan Peerce (June 3, 1904 – December 15, 1984) was an American operatic tenor. Peerce was an accomplished performer on the operatic and Broadway concert stages, in solo recitals, and as a recording artist.  He was the father of film director Larry Peerce.  Inscribed Photograph Signed, n.d. - 8 x 10 B/W inscribed in blue ink pen with a light fading seen in lettering.  Overall, fine condition. 

Jan Peerce was born Joshua Pincus Perelmuth. His parents, Louis and Henya Perelmuth, came from the village of Horodetz, formerly in Poland, now Belarus. 

Peerce studied singing in New York City with Giuseppe Boghetti. In 1932 he was hired as a tenor soloist with the Radio City Music Hall company by the impresario Roxy, who renamed him John Pierce. They soon compromised on the spelling Jan Peerce, which the singer felt better reflected his ethnicity. Thanks to radio broadcasts and stage programs, Peerce soon had a nationwide following. The legendary maestro Arturo Toscanini heard him singing Wagner on the radio and was able to contact Peerce through a mutual friend to see if he would like to audition for him. 

Peerce joined the roster of principal tenors at the Philadelphia La Scala Opera Company (PLSOC) in 1938. He made his professional opera debut with the company on December 10 of that year as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto with Robert Weede in the title role and Fritz Mahler conducting. He also sang Alfredo in La traviata with Annunciata Garrotto as Violetta and Weede as Germont during the company's 1938-1939 season. Peerce sang in several more performance with the PLSOC through 1941, singing Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with Elda Ercole as Cio-Cio-San, and reprising the roles of the Duke and Alfredo a number of times. 

In November 1939 Peerce performed his first solo recital in New York City. He made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera on November 29, 1941, singing Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata. He sang also the parts of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca, Rodolfo in La bohème, and in Gounod's Faust. He was hailed by critics as the “All-American successor to the ‘greats' of opera's almost extinct 'Golden Age'." 

Peerce's first recordings were made in 1931-1932, as a vocalist with New York area dance bands, using the names "Jack Pearl" and "Pinky Pearl." Several of these were with the Jack Berger Orchestra, with whom he was appearing at the Hotel Astor. They include popular hits of the day such as “Snuggled on Your Shoulder” and "Dancing on the Ceiling," and were issued on numerous smaller labels including Crown, Perfect, Banner and Melotone. 

He died in December 1984, aged 80. He is interred at Mount Eden Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.