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Sherrill Milnes

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Sherrill Milnes
Sherrill Milnes (right) as Scarpia in Tosca (Festival Puccini, 1997)
Born (1935-01-10) January 10, 1935 (age 89)

Sherrill Milnes (born January 10, 1935) is an American dramatic 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, aged 30, 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.

Early life[edit]

Milnes was born in Downers Grove, Illinois. His mother and father were dairy farmers. As a child, he exhibited strong and varied musical talents. In addition to singing, he also played piano, 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.

From 1958 until 1963, he was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus under the direction of Margaret Hillis, performing several times under the baton of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's sixth music director, Fritz Reiner. 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 was awarded an honorary doctorate from North Central College in 2006.


Sherrill Milnes Receiving Applause from the Audience following His Performance during a State Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of Australia

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 Méphistophélès), 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. Milnes was the leading baritone at the Met during the 1970s, singing to great acclaim there, especially for his performances in Verdi operas.

Beginning in 1982, Milnes experienced sudden serious vocal health problems which took him some time to surmount. 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' talents were not confined, however, solely to the operatic stage. As early as 1971 he had already received critical acclaim while featured in the role of David during the premier of Ezra Laderman's opera And David Wept, on the CBS Television network, under the musical direction of Alfredo Antonini. Nearly a decade earlier in 1964 he also collaborated with Antonini, playing the role of Saint Joseph in a televised adaptation of Hector Berlioz's sacred oratorio L'enfance du Christ.[1][2][3][4]

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. In the same year was honored by the Italian government as "Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica"[5]

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 by ABC.[6] 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.[7] After 32 years and 653 performances, he made his final appearance at the Metropolitan on March 22, 1997 as Amonasro in Aida.[8]

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.[9]

Milnes was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2003 in the area of The Performing Arts.[10]

Milnes has been a resident of Cresskill, New Jersey, and currently resides in Palm Harbor, Florida with his wife and son, Theo.[11]

VOICExperience Foundation[edit]

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.[12]


Role Opera Composer
Don Fernando Fidelio Beethoven
Riccardo I puritani Bellini
Escamillo Carmen Bizet
Michonnet Adriana Lecouvreur Cilea
Alfonso La Favorita Donizetti
Enrico Ashton Lucia di Lammermoor Donizetti
Gérard Andrea Chénier Giordano
De Siriex Fedora Giordano
Valentin Faust Gounod
Tonio Pagliacci Leoncavallo
Captain Adam Brant Mourning Becomes Electra Levy
Alfio Cavalleria rusticana Mascagni
Scindia Le roi de Lahore Massenet
Athanaël Thaïs Massenet
Garrido La Navarraise Massenet
Nèlusko L'Africaine Meyerbeer
Buff Der Schauspieldirektor Mozart
Don Giovanni Don Giovanni Mozart
Guglielmo Così fan tutte Mozart
Barnaba La Gioconda Ponchielli
Lescaut Manon Lescaut Puccini
Marcello La bohème Puccini
Il barone Scarpia Tosca Puccini
Jack Rance La fanciulla del West Puccini
Michele Il tabarro Puccini
Gianni Schicchi Gianni Schicchi Puccini
Guido Monna Vanna Rachmaninoff
Figaro The Barber of Seville Rossini
Guglielmo Tell William Tell Rossini
Henry VIII Henry VIII Saint-Saëns
Jochanaan Salome Strauss
Eugene Onegin Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky
Prince Yeletsky The Queen of Spades Tchaikovsky
Hamlet Hamlet Thomas
Nabucco Nabucco Verdi
Carlo V Ernani Verdi
Giacomo Giovanna d'Arco Verdi
Ezio Attila Verdi
Macbeth Macbeth Verdi
Miller Luisa Miller Verdi
Rigoletto Rigoletto Verdi
Conte di Luna Il trovatore Verdi
Giorgio Germont La traviata Verdi
Guido di Monforte I vespri siciliani Verdi
Simon Boccanegra
Simon Boccanegra Verdi
Renato Un ballo in maschera Verdi
Don Carlo La forza del destino Verdi
Rodrigo di Posa Don Carlos Verdi
Amonasro Aida Verdi
Jago Otello Verdi
Falstaff Falstaff Verdi
Wolfram Tannhäuser Wagner
Herald Lohengrin Wagner
Donner Das Rheingold Wagner
Lysiart Euryanthe Weber
Conte di Westmoreland Sly Wolf-Ferrari


Complete Operas and other works[edit]

  • Mozart: Così fan tutte (with L. Price, Troyanos, Raskin, Shirley, Flagello – Leinsdorf, cond.)
  • Verdi: La traviata (with Caballé, Bergonzi – Prêtre, cond.)
  • R. Strauss: Salome (with Caballé, R. Lewis, Resnik, J. King – Leinsdorf, cond.)
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, "Choral" (with J. Marsh, Veasey, Domingo – Leinsdorf, cond.)
  • Orff: Carmina Burana (with Mandac, Kolk – Ozawa, cond.)
  • Verdi: Il trovatore (with L. Price, Domingo, Cossotto – Mehta, cond.)
  • Verdi: Aïda (with L. Price, Domingo, Bumbry, Raimondi – Leinsdorf, cond.)
  • Verdi: Macbeth (with Ludwig, Cossutta – Böhm, cond.) Live recording
  • Verdi: Un ballo in maschera (with Tebaldi, Pavarotti—Bartoletti, cond.)
  • Puccini: Il tabarro (with L. Price, Domingo—Leinsdorf, cond.)
  • Verdi: Don Carlo (with Domingo, Caballé, Raimondi, Verrett—Giulini, cond.)
  • Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (with Sutherland, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov—Bonynge, cond.)
  • Leoncavallo: Pagliacci (with Domingo, Caballé, Goeke-Santi, cond.)
  • Verdi: Rigoletto (with Sutherland, Pavarotti, Tourangeau, Talvela—Bonynge, cond.)
  • Verdi: Attila (with Raimondi, Deutekom, Bergonzi—Gardelli, cond.)
  • Verdi: Giovanna d'Arco (with Caballé, Domingo—Levine, cond.)
  • Puccini: Tosca (with L. Price, Domingo – Mehta, cond.)
  • Puccini: La bohème (with Caballé, Domingo, Blegen, Sardinero, Raimondi – Solti, cond.)
  • Verdi: I vespri siciliani (with Arroyo, Domingo, Raimondi – Levine, cond.)
  • Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Sills, Gedda, Capecchi, Raimondi, Barbieri – Levine, cond.)
  • Verdi: Luisa Miller (with Pavarotti, Caballé – Maag, cond.)
  • Massenet's La Navarraise (with Horne, Domingo, Bacquier – H. Lewis, cond.)
  • Verdi: Il trovatore [with bonus tracks from a 1968 recording of Act II with Richard Tucker] (with Caballé, Cossutta, Arkhipova – Guadagno, cond.)
  • Giordano: Andrea Chénier (with Scotto, Domingo – Levine, cond.)
  • Verdi: Macbeth (with Cossotto, Carreras, Raimondi – Muti, cond.)
  • Massenet: Thaïs (with Sills, Gedda, van Allan – Maazel, cond.)
  • Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur (with Scotto, Domingo, Obraztsova – Levine, cond.)
  • Bizet: Carmen (with Berganza, Domingo, Cotrubas – C. Abbado, cond.)
  • Puccini: La fanciulla del West (with Neblett, Domingo – Mehta, cond.)
  • Verdi: La forza del destino (with L. Price, Domingo, Cossotto, Giaiotti, Bacquier – Levine, cond.)
  • Verdi: La traviata (with Cotrubas, Domingo – Kleiber, cond.)
  • Walton: Belshazzar's Feast (Gibson, cond.)
  • Rossini: Guglielmo Tell (with Freni, Pavarotti, Mazzoli, Jones, Ghiaurov – Chailly, cond.)
  • Verdi: Otello (with Domingo, Scotto – Levine, cond.)
  • Verdi: Rigoletto (with Sills, Kraus, M. Dunn, Ramey – Rudel, cond.)
  • Puccini: Tosca (with Freni, Pavarotti – Rescigno, cond.)
  • Puccini: La bohème (with Scotto, Neblett, Kraus, Manuguerra, Plishka, Tajo; Levine, cond.)
  • Massenet: Le roi de Lahore (with Sutherland, Lima, Ghiaurov, Morris, Tourangeau – Bonynge, cond.)
  • Ponchielli: La Gioconda (with Caballé, Baltsa, Pavarotti, Ghiaurov – Bartoletti, cond.)
  • Thomas: Hamlet (with Sutherland, Morris, Conrad, Winbergh, Lewis, Gelling; Bonynge, cond.)
  • Ponchielli: La Gioconda (with Marton, Ramey, Lamberti – Patanè, cond.
  • Fauré: Requiem (with Te Kanawa – Dutoit, cond.)
  • Wolf-Ferrari: Sly (with Carreras, Kabatu – Gimenez, cond.)



  • Puccini: Tosca (with Kabaivanska, Domingo – Bartoletti, cond., de Bosio, dir.)
  • Verdi: Luisa Miller (with Scotto, Domingo, Morris; Levine, cond., Merrill, dir.)
  • Verdi: Don Carlo (Scotto, Troyanos, Moldoveanu, Plishka, Hines; Levine, cond., Dexter, dir.)
  • Verdi: Ernani (with L. Mitchell, Pavarotti, Raimondi – Levine, cond., Samaritani, dir.)
  • Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (with Tomowa-Sintow, Moldoveanu, Plishka – Levine, cond., Capobianco, dir.)
  • Verdi: Nabucco (with Bumbry, Cortez, Raimondi – Santi, cond.)
  • Sherrill Milnes: An All-Star Gala (various artists)
  • Sherrill Milnes at Juilliard: An Opera Master Class
  • Verdi: Il trovatore (with Marton, Zajick, Pavarotti – Levine, cond., Melano, dir.)
  • Verdi: Aïda (with Millo, Zajick, Domingo – Levine, cond., Frisell, dir.)
  • Puccini: La fanciulla del West (with Daniels, Domingo – Slatkin, cond., del Monaco, dir.)

Audio Cassette Tapes[edit]


  • A Grand Night for Singing (with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Columbia Symphony & Jerold Ottley) — Published by CBS, Inc.


  1. ^ "And David Wept". Retrieved Sep 27, 2019 – via www.imdb.com.
  2. ^ "Laderman, Ezra". Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Retrieved Sep 27, 2019.
  3. ^ "Alfredo Antonini". IMDb. Retrieved Sep 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "L'enfance du Christ". Retrieved Sep 27, 2019 – via www.imdb.com.
  5. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Retrieved Sep 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Writer, Bill Kelley, Staff (5 July 1986). "LIBERTY RECEIVES CLASSICAL SALUTE". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved Sep 27, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "The Winners of the 2008 OPERA NEWS Awards are…". Metropolitan Opera, Opera News. 4 August 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  8. ^ "Sherrill Milnes". Metropolitan Opera Archives.
  9. ^ "Leading clarinetist to receive Sanford Medal". Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved Sep 27, 2019.
  10. ^ The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. "Convocation & Investiture of Laureates, 2003"
  11. ^ Milnes, Sherrill; McGovern, Dennis. "American aria: encore", p. 33, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2007. ISBN 1-57467-160-X. Accessed February 21, 2011.
  12. ^ Greg Waxberg, Greg (3 June 2015). "Lessons of a Lifetime". Classical Singer

External links[edit]