V0560. ROBERT MERRILL: Eight Songs by Stephen Foster; Arias & Duets (w.Albanese & Björling) from Otello, Don Carlos, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Ballo, Cavalleria & Pagliacci. (Austria) Preiser 89534, recorded 1950. Final copy! - 717281895347
“As a winner of the Metropolitan Auditions of the Air, Robert Merrill made his Metropolitan Opera début on 15 December, 1945, as Germont père in LA TRAVIATA, opposite the Violetta of Licia Albanese and Richard Tucker's Alfredo. It was a rôle he was also privileged to sing and record under Arturo Toscanini.
Despite immediate audience popularity and the enthusiasm of Met management, Merrill pursued his career cautiously, staying with less demanding parts - Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Rodrigo in DON CARLO, Valentin in FAUST, and Marcello in LA BOHÈME - until he felt prepared for such larger rôles as the Count di Luna in IL TROVATORE, Barnaba in LA GIOCONDA, Amonasro in AÏDA, and, eventually, Iago in Verdi's OTELLO. Large or small, nearly everything he sang made an indelible impression. For instance, his Marcello for Sir Thomas Beecham's 1956 recording of LA BOHÈME, with de los Angeles and Björling. Gradually, his repertory broadened to include some 20 rôles, and over a career of 30 years, he was heard at the Met 750 times. Merrill's most notable foreign appearances were both as the elder Germont (a mainstay) - in Venice in 1961, and at Covent Garden in 1967.
It goes without saying that his work was a vital part of what made the Met's Golden Age so golden; he was highly valued there for his vigorous, powerful, and technically unshakable singing, if not for his acting skills (which were never a priority). In 1993, he was awarded the United States Medal of Arts.”
- Adrian Corleonis, allmusic.com
“Robert Merrill made his Metropolitan début as Germont on 15 Dec., 1945, and celebrated his 500th performance there on 5 March, 1973. He remained on the Met roster until 1976. During his tenure with the Met, Mr. Merrill sang leading roles in much of the standard repertory, including the title role in RIGOLETTO, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Escamillo in CARMEN and Tonio in PAGLIACCI; he appeared in most of these many times. Regarded as one of the greatest Verdi baritones of his generation, he was known for the security and strength of his sound, as well as for the precision and clarity with which he could hit pitches across his two-octave range.
‘Although he occasionally appeared in Europe and South America, he preferred to base his career at the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang all the major baritone roles of the Italian and French repertories’, Peter G. Davis wrote of Mr. Merrill in THE NEW GROVE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN MUSIC. ‘In terms of vocal endowment, technical security and longevity, he was unequaled among baritones of his generation at the Metropolitan’. ‘After Leonard Warren's tragic death onstage at the Metropolitan in 1960, Merrill became more or less indisputably America's principal baritone and perhaps the best lyricist since Giuseppe de Luca’, the critic J. B. Steane wrote in his book THE GRAND TRADITION. ‘The easy and even production of a beautifully well-rounded tone is not common, especially when the voice is also a powerful one; yet this is, after all, the basis of operatic singing, and Merrill's records will always commend themselves in these terms. Mr. Merrill made many recordings for RCA. He sang in two complete opera broadcasts on radio under Toscanini - LA TRAVIATA in 1946 and UN BALLO IN MASCHERA in 1953 - both of which were later issued on CD. He wrote two autobiographies, ONCE MORE FROM THE BEGINNING (1965) and BETWEEN ACTS (1976), as well as a novel, THE DIVAS (1978). He received a number of honorary doctorates and awards.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 Oct., 2004