Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

On The Death of Klinghoffer

This is a revised version of my review of the Sept 5th 1991American premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera was first performed at Brussels’ La Monnaie the previous spring.

Dolora Zajick about her Institute for Young Dramatic Voices

"Although there are now more people on this planet than there have ever been before, there are fewer dramatic voices. Something is wrong with that equation. I thought there needs to be some sort of helping hand so that dramatic voices don’t fall through the cracks in the system as they advance through their various stages of development."

The Metropolitan Opera to cancel its Live in HD transmission of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer scheduled for this fall

 

Anna Prohaska, one of Europe’s most promising sopranos

Anna Prohaska sings Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the Royal Opera House. In the same month, she’s also in London to sing a recital with Eric Schneider at the Wigmore Hall, and to sing Henze with Sir Simon Rattle at the Barbican Hall.

Garsington Opera’s 25th anniversary unites its past with its future

Garsington Opera celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Annapolis Opera’s 26th Annual Vocal Competitions

Baritone Brandon Coleman’s mother, Linda, knew that 3-year old Brandon would be a great singer when a stranger who had heard him, predicted it.

Barbiere Comes to Sin City

Professional opera returns to the Las Vegas Valley June 6th and 8th with performances of one of the best-known comic operas of all time, Gioachino Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Jean-Paul Scarpitta in Montpellier

I met with the embattled artistic director of the Opéra et Orchestre National de Montepellier not to talk about his battles. I simply wanted to know the man who had cast and staged a truly extraordinary Mozart/DaPonte trilogy.

Interview: Tenor Saimir Pirgu — From Albania to Italy to LA

Maria Nockin interviews tenor Saimir Pirgu.

Claudio Abbado, Italian conductor, dies aged 80

Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, former principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, has died aged 80

Matthew Polenzani — Des Grieux, Manon, Royal Opera House

Matthew Polenzani reprises the role of the Chevalier des Grieux in Jules Massenet’s Manon at the Royal Opera House. “I love coming back to London”, he says, “It’s a very good house and they take care of you as a singer. And the level of music making is unbelievably high”.

Season 2014 at San Diego Opera

On Saturday evening January 25, San Diego Opera opens its 2014 season with Ruggero Leoncavallo’s verismo blockbuster Pagliacci (Clowns).

Maestro Joseph Rescigno Discusses The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman is a transitional piece because Wagner was only beginning to establish his style. He took some aspects from Carl Maria von Weber and others from Italian composers like Vincenzo Bellini.

Royal Opera House Announces Digital Theatre

The Royal Opera House has its own DVD arm, Opus Arte, and is developing quite a global following with its cinema broadcasts.

Patricia Racette on Dolores Claiborne

On a personal level, I feel that Dolores is almost like Emmeline grown up. Their circumstances are not exactly parallel, but they are both women at very different points in their lives whose stories involve dilemmas with life-changing outcomes.

Tobias Picker Talks About His New Opera Dolores Claiborne

With the help of Andrew Welch, a London theatrical producer who had adapted several of King’s works for the stage, including this one, I got the rights to both Dolores Claiborne and Misery.

Dolora Zajick on New Opera Written for Her

On September 18, 2013, San Francisco Opera will present the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera, Dolores Claiborne, which has a libretto by J. D. McClatchy based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

Ermonela Jaho — Singing and Character

Ermonela Jaho caused a sensation at Covent Garden in London five years ago, when she took over Violetta at short notice from Anna Netrebko.

Ignite at Wigmore Hall

What do you get if you cross Benjamin Britten, ‘one-page scores’, an innovative performing ensemble and ‘Wigmore Learning’ — the Wigmore Hall’s imaginative outreach programme which aims to provide access to chamber music and song through innovative creative programmes, online resources and events?

Marseille, Capital of European Culture

Marseille woke up this past January 11 stunned to find itself number two on the New York Times list of 46 places you should visit in 2013 (Rio was number one, Paris just made the list at number 46).

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

28 Oct 2004

A Tribute to Robert Merrill (1919-2004)

MEMORIES OF ROBERT MERRILL: AMERICAN OPERATIC ICON by James Engdahl, Engdahl Artists International Robert Merrill, born Moishe Miller in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, passed away last Saturday, October 22, 2004, as he watched the first game of the World...

MEMORIES OF ROBERT MERRILL: AMERICAN OPERATIC ICON

by James Engdahl, Engdahl Artists International

Robert Merrill, born Moishe Miller in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, passed away last Saturday, October 22, 2004, as he watched the first game of the World Series on television. If there was anything that would have given him as much pleasure as his singing career did, it would have been playing baseball!

Robert Merrill

I have been asked to share my memories of Mr. Merrill. They were few but were each great lessons to me as a young singer as to what to expect from an artist's life.

The first time I saw Robert Merrill was after a Met performance of Un ballo in Maschera with Nicolei Gedda and Roberta Peters during my first year in New York. I had never seen either these artists before and I was very excited as I had tickets to three shows including the broadcast! Ms. Peters made the first appearance and sang well that day. Mr. Gedda entered and sang with his exemplary style but in the balcony, I found him hard to hear with the exception of his wonderful top voice. Then Robert Merrill entered to sporadic applause, something that truly surprised me, as here was one of America's greatest singers. His voice sounded a bit thin but with that wonderful color I had grown up admiring. He sang the rest of the opera well but I was a bit disappointed.

Next came the broadcast and Mr. Merrill made his entrance to huge applause and I joined in and smiled. Then he sang his first phrase and the size of the voice not only had doubled but that velvet gleamed for the rest of the afternoon. I mentioned this to a long time member of the Met family and he said, "Oh, that's because it was a broadcast and he wanted America to know he was still there!"

The next time I saw him was in concert where he sang arias like "Non piu andrai" from Nozze di Figaro and of all things, "O du mein holder" from Wagner's Tannhauser, both roles he had never sung on stage to my knowledge. The Mozart went well but I had a glimpse of the Catskills side of him I had heard of often but never seen. Then came the Wagner! Mr. Merrill stood silently of the stage and poured out his voice with an artistry I had never heard from him before. As I listened, all I could think about was what we missed in not hearing his Wolfram!

The third time I saw him was at a Richard Tucker Foundation Gala and I was wondering what he would sing. The Master of Ceremonies announced his name, the audience cheered and as the orchestra began the Toreador Song from Carmen, he burst onto the stage with an energy and virility that belied his age (around 70) and he sang superbly throughout the aria, although I noticed he has lowered it a step or so. He finished to a standing ovation and he was an icon across America again.

The last time I saw him was at a premiere at the Jewish Museum of a film highlighting Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker and Mr. Merrill's early appearances on television. As I saw him leave his limo, he had become fairly heavy and moved very slowly. He seemed disoriented as to where he was and where to go. His loving wife Marion guided him into the theater and we watched the film, an excellent documentary. The discussion panel announced his being in the theater and as I watched him rise from his chair, the performer's gleam and smile appeared and he knew just how to address the moment.

A singer, no matter how artistic, is like an athlete and remembered mainly by his last out appearance, I was glad I was there to see Robert Merrill, American operatic icon, hit one last ball out of the park!

[To hear Robert Merrill sing the Toreador Song, click here.]

Click here to join a discussion on the passing of Robert Merrill.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):