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"The Hard Bargain will rightly take its place on the top shelf of a large bookcase of memoirs about fathers and sons."


Available in hardcover, softcover, and Kindle editions at


The Hard Bargain describes in vivid detail and elegant prose the clash of wills between a famous father and his hard-driving middle son. Richard Tucker, the American superstar tenor from the golden age of the Metropolitan Opera, demanded that his son become a surgeon. Rejecting his father’s wishes, David wanted to follow his father onto the opera stage. Their struggle over David’s future — by turns hilarious and humiliating, wise and loving — is played out in medical and musical venues around the world. The father and son strike a bargain, the hard bargain of the title, which permitted both dreams to flicker for a decade until one (the right one, it turns out) bursts into sustaining flame. This heartfelt memoir about a son’s struggle against the looming power of a magnetic father is conveyed in a moving narrative that one reviewer has called “the most dramatic exploration of the private life of a legendary singer in the annals of opera literature.”


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The Authors


Dr. David N. Tucker is a retired ophthalmologist with degrees from Tufts University and the Cornell University Medical College. After an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, he was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health, doing research in infectious diseases during the Vietnam War. As chief resident under Dr. Edward Norton at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, he accepted a one-year fellowship with the eminent Colombian microsurgeon Dr. José Barraquer and with other prestigious ophthalmic surgeons in Europe. For over thirty years, Dr. Tucker was in private practice in Cincinnati and was the director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Jewish Hospital for twenty-seven years. After retiring in 2004, he taught part time as a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at the NYU School of Medicine. He and his wife Lynda celebrated their golden anniversary in 2013 and have four children and nine grandchildren.

Burton Spivak received his PhD in American History at the University of Virginia where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Virginia- Danforth Fellow, and taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Brown University, Bates College, and the University of Virginia. He is a former recipient of the Stuart L. Bernath Lecture Prize for outstanding achievement in teaching and scholarship, awarded annually by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. His book Jefferson’s English Crisis: Commerce, Embargo, and the Republican Revolution (Charlottesville, Virginia, 1979) was included in C-SPAN’s American Presidents: Life Portraits list of twenty-five recommended books on Thomas Jefferson. Spivak also received his JD degree from the University of Virginia where he was on the Law Review and Order of the Coif, and practiced tax law in New York City for many years. He currently is an Adjunct Professor of History at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.



“This unique book is the most dramatic exploration of the private life of a legendary singer in the annals of opera literature. Burton Spivak, in his vivid and elegant prose, has captured not only the voice but also the spirit and heart of David Tucker, and the electric relationship between him and his father. It is my belief that Th e Hard Bargain: Music, Medicine, and My Father (Richard Tucker, Opera Legend) will rightly take its place on the top shelf of a large bookcase of memoirs about sons and fathers.”

— JAMES A. DRAKE, Ph.D. National Award-Winning
Author, and Biographer of Richard Tucker


“The story of David Tucker, son of the superstar Metropolitan Opera tenor Richard Tucker, who is challenged by his son’s aspirations to pursue an opera career, is a struggle between music and medicine. As told by Dr. Tucker, the memoir is both powerful and provocative. Co-authored with the stylistic skill of an expert collaborator and written with elegant simplicity, the book is a delightful read and thoroughly rewarding experience,”

— ANDREW FARKAS, University Library Founding
Director and Library Director Emeritus


“In the many performances I sang with Richard Tucker, he was always an inspiration as a colleague and friend. I can say that the operatic community will love this memoir, and given David Tucker’s chosen profession, ophthalmology, and the way he pursued it, the medical community will love it as well. Richard would be beaming with pride that one of his sons, David, has co-authored an intimate and revealing portrayal of his relationship with his father, the tenor we knew as “The American Caruso.”

— SHERRILL MILNES, International Opera Star


“The Hard Bargain is an epic father-son saga and a genuine page-turner. David Tucker and Burton Spivak have provided us with an engaging, first-hand account of the American Jewish experience in post-World War II America.”

— Dr. GARY P. ZOLA, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader
Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.


“The collection of stories provides a rare glimpse inside a family’s intimate moments... An inspiring story of ambition and compromise.”

REBECCA L. MORGAN, The U.S. Review of Books

“David’s stories provide unique insight into both his own life and the life of his father... It’s rare to read such an honest accounting of one life, let alone one of such a challenging father-son relationship.”

MATT HURD, The Pacific Book Review

(Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit)

“Told with honesty, humor, and respect, David offers the reader an intimate view of the age-old struggle between a father who believes he knows best and a son looking to pursue his own passions and purpose... I read it in three days because I simply couldn’t put it down.”


“From cover to cover this book kept me engrossed in the story of the relationship of a famous father and his middle son. Beautifully written from the son’s perspective, I could not put this book down.”


“"The Hard Bargain" is mesmerizing as it reveals the extraordinary relationship between a world renowned celebrity and his uniquely talented son. The book gives a powerful portrayal of their complex relationship, their struggles, their deep respect for one another, their hopes, and their dreams. Above all, "The Hard Bargain" underscores the depth of their everlasting love for each other.


“Phenomenal book about conflict between father and son, particularly interesting if you enjoy opera and if you are interested in physician training and medical practice. This book is very well written and very easy to read. I would highly recommend this book.”


A candid and riveting father-son story about a hard-driving, world-famous father who pushed his son away from a stage profession.”

See complete review on at: Memoir by Opera Legend Richard Tucker’s Son a five-star-read


A gripping tale of a father and son bound together by a ferocious love of life and each other.”


“An honest telling of a young man's search for a future as a singer in the tradition of his father, Richard Tucker, or entering the medical field as his father wanted. Based on the success he had as doctor, it proves that father knew best.”


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