NEW YORK (Dec. 17)
Funeral services were held here today for Jan Peerce, who worked his way from the Lower East Side of New York to become the principal tenor of the New York Metropolitan Opera. He died at the Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged here Saturday night after a long illness. He was 80 years old and had suffered a stroke two years ago.
Born Jacob Pincus Perelmuth in the Lower East side in 1904, Peerce made his singing debut in 1932 at Radio City Music Hall where he remained for eight years. He made his debut at the Metropolitan in 1941 as Alfredo in “La Traviata,” and during his 27 years there distinguished himself in French and Italian repertoire. He made his Broadway debut in 1971 in “Fiddler on the Roof.” After retiring, he continued to perform and sang as a cantor during the High Holy Days.
Peerce, while in Austria in 1973, visited a transit station in Vienna for Soviet Jewish emigrants on their way to Israel. He performed for them the regular Sabbath service and afterwards sang the Yiddish tune “Raisins and Almonds” for the Soviet Jews. He sang in synagogues during his youth and later in synagogues in Moscow and elsewhere in the Soviet Union while one a tour of that country.