Sherrill Milnes (born January 10, 1935) is an American operatic baritone most famous for his Verdi roles. From 1965 until 1997 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera. His voice is a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style. By 1965 he had made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. His international debuts followed soon thereafter, and Milnes became one of the world’s prominent Verdi baritones of the 1970s and 1980s.
Sherrill Milnes American baritone
Sherrill Milnes (born January 10, 1935) is an American operatic baritone most famous for his Verdi roles. From 1965 until 1997 he was associated with the Metropolitan Opera. His voice is a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style. By 1965 he had made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. His international debuts followed soon thereafter, and Milnes became one of the world’s prominent Verdi baritones of the 1970s and 1980s.ilnes was born in Downers Grove, Illinois to a dairy farmer and his wife. As a child, he exhibited strong and varied musical talents. In addition to singing, he also playedpiano, violin, viola, double bass, clarinet, and tuba. Although his interests did not always lean toward opera, he spent many hours singing to his father’s cows and was once found on a tractor practicing an operatic laugh.
While in high school, Milnes planned to be an anesthesiologist, but later returned to music, studying music education at Drake University and Northwestern University, with the idea of becoming a teacher. He attended North Central College before transferring to Drake University and Northwestern University. Milnes was awarded an honorary doctorate from North Central College in 2006. After graduating from Drake, he spent a summer as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera and thereafter dedicated himself to becoming an opera singer, studying briefly with the famed soprano Rosa Ponselle.
Milnes began his career with the Opera Company of Boston in 1960, joining Boris Goldovsky’s Opera Theater, and debuting as Masetto in Don Giovanni. From very early on in his career, Milnes was managed by well-known talent manager Herbert Barrett. In 1961, he made his debut at Ponselle’s Baltimore Opera as Gérard in Andrea Chénier.
In 1964, Milnes made his first major breakthrough singing the role of Valentin in Gounod’s Faust at the New York City Opera (opposite Norman Treigle as Mephisto), the role with which he also made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1965. In 1967 he created the role of Captain Adam Brant in the world premiere of Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra at the Met.
In 1964, Milnes also made his European debut singing Figaro from The Barber of Seville at the Teatro Nuovo in Milan. However, it was his performance as Miller in Verdi’s Luisa Miller in 1968 which catapulted him into international fame.
In the early 1980s, Milnes experienced serious vocal health problems, but he eventually surmounted them. In 1984 he sang in the world premiere of Act I of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s opera Monna Vanna, which had been left in piano score by the composer and orchestrated by Igor Buketoff.
Milnes was awarded Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity’s Charles E. Lutton Man of Music Award at its 1982 national convention in Urbana, Illinois. He had been initiated into the Fraternity’s Alpha Beta chapter at Drake University in 1954.
On July 5, 1986, he performed on the New York Philharmonic’s tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, which was televised live on ABC Television. The orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, performed in Central Park.
In September 1996, Milnes was honored by the French government with the distinguished Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. After 653 performances, he made his final bow at the Met on March 22, 1997 in Aida.
In 1998, Milnes published a memoir, American Aria.
Milnes is currently a professor emeritus in voice at Northwestern University. He is a recipient of Yale University’s Sanford Medal. He is Artistic Advisor to Opera Tampa (FL).
He is a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
Milnes has been a resident of Cresskill, New Jersey, and currently resides in Palm Harbor, Florida with his wife and son, Theo.
In 2001, Milnes and his wife, soprano Maria Zouves, founded the VOICExperience Foundation, a non-profit organization for the education of young singers. It evolved from a series of master classes led by Milnes,Tony Randall, Martina Arroyo and Barry Tucker, president of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Based in Florida, it provides several educational programs, workshops, outreach events and community enrichment programs. In Florida, the foundation runs The Florida VOICE Project for singers in the Tampa Bay Area. In New York City, the foundation runs the Opera As Drama program, a week-long career development program for emerging professional opera singers which culminates in a public performance at Opera America’s National Opera Center. As part of the Savannah Voice Festival, the foundation runs a Teen VOICE workshop and the Milnes VOICE studio.