Baritone Robert Merrill, Longtime Met Star, Is Dead

Classic Arts News   Baritone Robert Merrill, Longtime Met Star, Is Dead
Robert Merrill, a leading Metropolitan Opera baritone for 30 years and a familiar presence on radio and television, died on October 23, the New York Times reports.

Accounts of his Merrill's age vary, but according to Times, he was 87. He died at home while watching the World Series on television.

Merrill made his Met debut as Germont in La traviata in 1945, and remained with the company until 1976. He appeared with the Met more than 500 times, singing the title role of Rigoletto, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Escamillo in Carmen, and Tonio in Pagliacci, and other French and Italian baritone roles.

In 1976, he left the Met, despite the fact that his voice remained, by all accounts, strong. He continued to sing in concert, and returned for the company's centennial concert in 1983.

Merrill began singing ballads on the radio before his operatic career began, and first sang on television in 1949, appearing on Your Show of Shows in the early 1950s. He recorded frequently, appeared occasionally in clubs and in Las Vegas, and made one foray into film, in the 1952 musical Aaron Slick From Punkin Crick.

A baseball fan, he regularly sang the national anthem at Yankee Stadium at season-opening, playoff, and World Series games, and the team played a recording of his rendition at other home games.

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