Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday: Sherrill Milnes

Sherrill Milnes is universally acclaimed as the foremost operatic baritone of his generation. A superstar in every sense, the adulation he receives is the kind usually reserved for tenors. His remarkable voice, artistic integrity, commanding stage presence and rugged handsomeness have made him a favorite for all audiences. In 2008 he is honored with the receipt of the Opera News Award for Distinguished Achievement. 

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 theMetropolitan Opera.


His voice is a high dramatic baritone, combining good legato with an incisive rhythmic style; furthermore, he has a commanding and handsome stage presence. By 1965 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 80s. He has been a prolific recording artist, often in partnership with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

Milnes 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 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 once was found on a tractor practicing an operatic laugh.

While in high school, Milnes planned to be an anaesthesiologist, but later returned to music, studying music education at Drake University and Northwestern University, with the idea of becoming a teacher. After graduating, 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 André Chénier.

In 1964, Milnes made his first major breakthrough singing the role of Valentin in Gounod's Faust at the New York City Opera, 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 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. In September 1996 Milnes was honored by the French government with the distinguished Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 1998, Milnes published a memoir, American Aria.

Starting in 2001, Milnes has been bringing his experience and expertise to young rising operatic talent through V.O.I.C.E. (Vocal and Operatic Intensive Creative Experience), which he founded in 2001 with his third wife, Maria Zouves. Their workshops allow educators and performers to share their knowledge through master classes, private coachings, presentations, one-on-one consultations, lectures, and performances. They strive to create a realistic view of the many challenges that singers face throughout their career. The auditor program allows both opera lovers and singers a unique interaction in the creative process.

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.

For a more in-depth biography, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment