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Sherrill Milnes Celebrates 80th Birthday & 50th Anniversary of Met Debut in 2015, Highlighting Legendary Baritone’s VOICE Programs for Young Singers

The coming year brings two major milestones for peerless American baritone Sherrill Milnes, who celebrates his 80th birthday on January 10 and the 50th anniversary of his Metropolitan Opera debut on December 22, 2015. To observe these twin landmarks, the three-time Grammy Award-winner is not only the subject of a feature-length cover story in the forthcoming January issue of Classical Singer magazine, but will be the guest of honor at two New York City events. On January 27, Opera America presents “Sherrill Milnes@80” at the National Opera Center, where the baritone will share stories and video clips from his long and illustrious career in an intimate conversation with Opera America President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. Opera Tampa will present Milnes with the Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award on February 7, and he will be back in New York City on February 13 for “A Winter’s Opera Night,” a special fundraising gala at the Harmonie Club to honor Milnes at 80 and benefit his acclaimed Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs© – VOICExperience and the Savannah VOICE Festival – through which he continues to make an invaluable contribution to opera, actively and passionately training young singers and developing new audiences for the vocal arts. Milnes fans can look forward to the launch of a new website for the legendary baritone in January (, and stay in touch now through his new official Facebook page.

Milnes’s distinguished performing career
With his powerful voice and commanding stage presence, Sherrill Milnes achieved the kind of adulation that is usually reserved for tenors. The definitive Verdi baritone of his generation, he was one of the leading lights of the Metropolitan Opera for more than three decades; from his 1965 debut, when he sang Valentin opposite Montserrat Caballé in Gounod’s Faust, to his final appearance in 1997, Milnes gave 652 performances at the New York house, where he was honored with 16 new productions, seven opening nights, and ten national telecasts. Also a mainstay at international opera houses including Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna, Berlin, and Paris, he performed and recorded with the likes of Domingo, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Sills, Caballé, Horne, Price, and Tebaldi. The winner of three Grammy Awards and the most recorded American singer of his time, Milnes boasts an extensive and exemplary discography that embraces repertoire from opera to Broadway. He also appeared with the great orchestras of North America and Europe, sang on the world’s major recital stages, and performed for every U.S. President from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush. In 1987 Milnes received New York City’s Seal of Recognition for his rich contribution to the city’s cultural life, and in 2008 he was recognized with an Opera News Award for Distinguished Achievement. He has also been honored as a Commendatore of the Italian Republic, and by the French government with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. 

Milnes as educator and founder of VOICE programs
To celebrate the vocal arts and preserve the future of great singing, Milnes is dedicated to passing on the fruits of his experience. He has worked extensively with young singers throughout his career, at the Juilliard School, Yale University, Northwestern University (where he serves as Distinguished Professor Emeritus), and other leading educational institutions worldwide. He has also given more than 500 masterclasses, and judges international vocal competitions including the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. In 2000, with his wife, soprano Maria Zouves, Milnes founded VOICExperience, a non-profit foundation designed to train and mentor young singers. As an outgrowth of VOICExperience, in 2013 Milnes and Zouves founded the Savannah VOICE Festival, bringing classical vocal excellence to the Georgia town through two weeks of concerts, educational presentations, events, and a fully staged opera each August, with additional activities throughout the year. Savannah VOICE Festival provides performance opportunities for VOICExperience participants as it builds audiences for the vocal arts. While VOICExperience has mentored thousands of singers in its decade and a half of training in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and New York, the collaboration of the two organizations in one year alone now serves over 100 artists and 7,000 audience members with more than 45 public offerings, outreach events, and community enrichment programs.

VOICExperience and Savannah VOICE Festival in 2015
In honor of the baritone’s milestone birthday, this year the Savannah VOICE Festival joins forces with the Savannah Music Festival to produce Puccini’s one-act operas Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica, with the support of the Savannah Philharmonic and conductor Eugene Kohn (March 20 & 22). The co-production stars baritone Mark Delavan, soprano Verónica Villaroel and VOICE program alumna Micaëla Oeste. This production, which will be directed by Joachim Schamberger, marks not only the first collaboration between the two prestigious Georgia festivals, but also the Savannah Music Festival’s first foray into opera. Milnes and Zouves also offer a trio of training programs at the Savannah VOICE Festival this summer: CAMP VOICE for Teens, which provides college preparation assistance to aspiring teenage singers; an Apprentice Program for pre-professional young artists; and the Milnes VOICE Studio, which offers professional training and career guidance to singers ages 21 and above (Aug 2–16).

Milnes’s VOICE programs also extend to Florida, Illinois, and New York.  This coming February, in Opera as Drama, Milnes offers emerging professional opera singers a week of intensive career development at New York City’s National Opera Center, where they focus on studying music from the perspective of the text, and conclude with a public performance of opera, musical theater, and song (Feb 8-14) at the NOC’s Audition Hall. Singers of all ages and levels of training are also invited to attend the baritone’s Florida VOICE Project in Tampa Bay (Aug 18–23) where a new opera by Michael Ching, commissioned by Milnes and Zouves, will be in workshop and cultivation.

Through his VOICE Programs, Milnes is sharing with the next generation a lifetime of experience:

“I was lucky in the beginning of my career to sing with so many of the great, older artists like Bergonzi, Tucker, Corelli, Gedda, Karajan, Bernstein, Leinsdorf, Solti and Giulini. I learned so much from each of these special artists. Also, every time we lose a generation, we get farther away from the source. I worked with Böhm, who worked with Richard Strauss. What I learned from these giants I am now privileged to pass along.” 

Such mentorship can make all the difference to an aspiring young artist, as baritone Matthew Patrick Morris – Betto in Savannah’s Gianni Schicchi this March – explains:

“I’m a baritone and for any baritone, the name Sherrill Milnes (and his recordings and DVD’s) is synonymous with the height of operatic achievement. The chance to get to work with Sherrill just makes me pinch myself every time. From coaching ‘Avant de quitter’ from Faust, the aria with which he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, to talking ‘shop’ after a day of Giovanni rehearsals, to his innate and unflagging musicianship and coaching notes, to his markings of Toscanini’s beat patterns in his Bohème score, to just knowing that any bit of information he shares comes from someone who knows what it takes to be the very best in the field you’re trying to break into…it just can’t be beat.” 

Highlights of Sherrill Milnes’s 2015 activities follows, and watch for the launch of his new website,, in January. High-resolution promotional photos may be downloaded here.

Sherrill Milnes in 2015 – selected events & activities

Launch of

Classical Singer cover story

Jan 10
80th birthday

Jan 18
Savannah, GA
Savannah Friends of Music event

Jan 27 (7 PM)
New York, NY
Opera America’s National Opera Center
“Sherrill Milnes@80 – Stories from a Singer’s Life”

Feb 7
Tampa, FL
Opera Tampa honors Milnes
Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award

Feb 8–14
New York, NY
National Opera Center
Milnes VOICE Programs: Opera as Drama

Feb 13
New York, NY
“A Winter’s Opera Night”
Harmonie Club
Gala fundraising dinner for the Milnes VOICE Programs
and honoring Sherrill Milnes at 80

Feb 14
New York, NY
National Opera Center Audition Hall
Milnes VOICE Program: Opera as Drama performance

Feb 20
New York, NY
Viennese Opera Ball
A Master of Ceremonies

March 7
Savannah, GA
Savannah VOICE Festival
Oglethorpe Club
Festival Artists performance

March 13
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera Guild
Gerald Lynch Theater, John Jay College
“Incomparable: A Celebration of Licia Albanese and Carlo Bergonzi”

March 16
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Lindemann Young Artists Program Master Class

March 20 & 22
Savannah, GA
Savannah Music Festival & Savannah VOICE Festival collaboration
Lucas Theatre
Puccini: Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica

March 24
Savannah, GA
Savannah VOICE Festival
“Arias & Encores” – Festival Artists

April 22 & 23
New York, NY
Richard Tucker Music Foundation Competition
Vice President & Chairman of the Audition & Awards Committee

May 17
Savannah, GA
Levy Family Legacy Concert
Milnes VOICE Programs Festival Artists

May 22:
Savannah, GA
Savannah Friends of Music event
Milnes VOICE Programs Festival Artists

July 1-4:
Prague, Czech Republic
Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Sherrill Milnes & Maria Zouves, stage directors

July 6-10:
Puerto Rico
Milnes VOICE Programs Master Classes

Aug 2-16
Savannah, GA
Savannah VOICE Festival
Milnes VOICE Programs: Apprentice Program

Aug 2–10
Savannah, GA
Milnes VOICE Programs: CAMP VOICE for Teens, Milnes VOICE Studio

Aug 9, 11
Savannah, GA
Savannah VOICE Festival
Bizet’s Carmen

Aug 18–23
Tampa, FL
Milnes VOICE Programs: Florida VOICE Project

Aug 22
Tampa, FL
Milnes VOICE Programs
Savannah Ghost Opera Workshop: Alice Riley by Michael Ching

Dec 22
50th anniversary of 1965 Metropolitan Opera debut



Sherrill (under construction)
Sherrill Milnes on YouTube
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© 21C Media Group, December 2014

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