Since we are basking in bass-baritones this month on “Operatoonity,” it’s the ideal time to recognize the contributions of Sherrill Milnes, an American baritone most famous for his Verdi roles, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1965 and continued appearing there through 1997.
In an English-language adaptation of Rigoletto produced by Russian conductor and impresario Boris Goldovsky, a young Sherrill Milnes was singing the title role in English. Nearing the end of one of Rigoletto’s monologues, Pari siamo, instead of “it is an evil omen; ah, no, it’s madness,” Sherrill sang, “It is an oval eeman.” Then realizing his mistake, he ad libbed, “Ah, no. It is a round one.”
(adapted from Opera: Aria Ready for a Laugh by Stephen and Nancy Tanner)