November 5, 2004 by

Robert Merrill

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Categories: Musicians

rmerrill.jpgTime magazine once described Robert Merrill as “one of the Met’s best baritones.”
The acclaimed opera singer performed for 31 consecutive seasons at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and tackled nearly every baritone role in the operatic repertoire, including Escamillo in “Carmen” and Figaro in “The Barber of Seville.”
But Merrill was also known for treating baseball fans at Yankee Stadium to his stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Beginning in 1969, he sang the national anthem at the season opener for three decades.
Born Moishe Millstein, Merrill decided to take singing lessons after sneaking into the Met and hearing a rehearsal of “Il Trovator.” The Brooklyn native changed his name when he entered show business and began performing at resort hotels in the Catskills. Merrill made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1945 as Germont in “La Traviata.” At 24, he was the youngest baritone ever to appear at the Met.
Merrill helped popularize opera by performing on radio and television, and at musical festivals all over the world. He also made numerous recordings for RCA, penned two autobiographies (“Once More From the Beginning,” “Between Acts: An Irreverent Look at Opera and Other Madness”) and wrote the 1978 novel “Divas.” President Bill Clinton gave him the National Medal of Arts in 1993.
Merrill married soprano Roberta Peters, but their union only lasted for 10 weeks. In 1954, he wed pianist Marion Machno; they had two children together.
Merrill died on Oct. 23 while watching the first game of the World Series. He was 87.
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Robert Merrill Download MP3s of Merrill’s Music

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