Saturday, 21 November 2015

Sherrill Milnes - Justice for baritones!

It is a sad fact that baritones never attract the adulation of tenors, or even basses - and even sadder that, on the whole, this is just; since the baritone voice - while capable of great nobility and comedy - somehow does not reach the aesthetic summits of the more extremes of the male range.

However, I do have a number of favourite baritone voices - none more than the unjustly neglected Sherrill Milnes; who was master of Verdi's ferociously taxing baritone roles, with their exhausting high-lying tessitura (which Bernard Shaw regarded as something of something of a scandal, and voice-wrecker). He has in abundance that virile, athletic masculinity which the best baritone embodies.

Here is an exceptionally beautifual aria from Wagner's Tannhauser (when he still wrote arias) - and this is, I think, one of the loveliest tunes ever.

For those too impatient to wait through the delicious recitativo, the main aria starts at 2:45 -


Milnes was most famous for his astonishing high notes: he was capable of singing a B-flat - which is only one tone below the usual tenor maximum high note of C - yet he sang these ultra-high notes with a full and ringing baritone-tone. A stunning example comes at the very end of this: