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Celebrated opera baritone Sherill Milnes comes to Tacoma for public talks, workshop and fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on April 23, 2013 at 5:06 am with No Comments »
April 22, 2013 2:30 pm
Sherill Milnes. Courtesy photo.
Sherill Milnes. Courtesy photo.

Opera fans, rejoice: Sherill Milnes is coming to town. No, not to sing – the former opera superstar’s heyday was in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it was a big one, ranging over almost every baritone role in the repertoire and every major house on several continents. But Milnes will be giving four public events: one this Saturday at a interview meet-and-greet fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program, free one-hour talks at both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University next Monday, and a vocal workshop Monday night at UPS.

So who’s Sherill Milnes? As Tacoma Opera director Noel Koran puts it in a press release, if you’ve followed opera for the last decade or four, you’ll know – but if not, that’s okay. Now 78, Sherill Milnes was in his day the world’s foremost operatic baritone. He was the leading baritone at New York’s Metropolitan Opera for 32 years (only Placido Domingo has been on longer); he sang 16 new Met productions, seven opening nights and 10 national telecasts; he has sung at all the world’s great opera houses (Paris Opera, La Scala, the Deutsche Opera and Chicago’s Lyric, among many); he performed for every United States president since Gerald Ford; and he’s the most recorded American opera singer in history. He has great stories to tell, and he’s still dedicated to helping young singers through their operatic careers.

One way he’ll do that in Tacoma is at the UPS vocal workshop, which is free for the public to attend as listeners. But the other way is through the Tacoma Opera fundraiser evening, which includes a live interview, videos from Milnes’ career and a meet-and-greet champagne reception afterward. The event raises money to support TO’s Young Artist program, which gets young opera singers on their way from study to professional careers. The only program left in Washington since Seattle Opera winds down its own at the end of the season, the Young Artists program offers fledgling singers the chance to cover major roles and sing small ones with a respected company, work onstage with experienced artists and directors, learn the ropes and network.

Eventually, points out Koran, “a few of these budding artists become principal artists at the national and even international level, just like Sherill Milnes.”

Ideally, the TO Young Artist program would also have the finances to offer coaching, acting and movement classes, audition seminars and private lessons – which is why they’re fundraising. The event will also benefit TO’s other educational offerings: Student Night at the Opera and Enriching Curriculum through Opera.

Plus, it’s a great chance to see one of America’s opera legends live.

Tacoma Opera fundraiser “An Evening with Sherill Milnes”: 7 p.m. April 27. $65 advance/$75 at door includes champagne reception with the artist. Theatre on the Square, 915 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-627-7789, tacomaopera.com

PLU talk: 11:15 a.m. April 29. Free. Lagerquist Concert Hall, 12180 Park Ave. S., Tacoma. 253-535-7621, plu.edu

UPS talk: 3:30 p.m. April 29. Free. Schneebeck Concert Hall, North 17th Street and Union Avenue, Tacoma. 253-879-3700, pugetsound.edu

UPS workshop: 7 p.m. April 29. Free. Schneebeck Concert Hall, North 17th Street and Union Avenue, Tacoma. 253-879-3700, pugetsound.edu

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