Timeline

American roots

1776

During the Revolutionary War, Sherrill Milnes’s great-great-great-grandfather, Matthew Lyon, is Ethan Allen’s second-in-command in the Green Mountain Boys. In 1778 he helps draft the Constitution (1778), and from 1797-1801 serves as a U.S. Congressman from Vermont

1828

Matthew Lyon’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Lyon, marries Dr. John Roe

Musical roots

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1858

Charles Ketcham Roe – Sherrill’s grandfather – is born in Downers Grove, Illinois; he later becomes the song leader at the Community Methodist Church, and his daughter, Thelma – Sherrill’s mother – its organist.

1901

The year Verdi died, Sherrill’s parents – James Knowlton Milnes and Marion Thelma Roe – are born

1931

Sherrill’s brother – Roe Knowlton Milnes – is born

Early Years

The Milnes Family, 1938Sherrillorchestra
January 10, 1935

Sherrill Milnes is born to James Knowlton Milnes, a Methodist minister, and Marion Thelma Roe in Downers Grove, Illinois, and raised on a small dairy farm

1948

A member of the 4-H Club, Sherrill enters a heifer that wins first place in the DuPage County Fair

1948-52

Studies voice, violin, viola, jazz bass, and tuba in high school and sings in church choir at the First Congregationalist Church where his mother is choir director

1952

As concertmaster of his high school orchestra, dates principal cellist Charlotte Slack

1952-58

Earns bachelor’s and master’s of music education degrees at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa

1956

Marries Charlotte Slack

First Jobs

1958

Joins Fritz Reiner’s newly formed Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus, directed by Margaret Hillis; begins voice over work singing on commercials (which he continues for many years)

1958-64

Studies voice with Hermanus Baer at Northwestern University

1959

​Becomes an apprentice artist at Santa Fe Opera

1959

​Son Eric is born

1960-1

Spends summers at Tanglewood in Boris Goldovsky’s opera workshop

1960

Signs with Herbert Barrett Management (still with same management, now called Barrett Vantage Artists)

1960

Professional opera debut in Boris Goldovsky Opera Company (Masetto in Don Giovanni); tours for five years with the company, traveling more than 100,000 miles and singing more than 300 performances of a dozen operas

Debuts

My debut at the Met as Valentin in Faust, 1965.Adam Brandt in Mourning Becomes Electra, a world premiere by Marvin David Levy, c. 1968.
1961

Wins Ford Foundation prize, which leads to debuts in the early 1960s with regional opera companies, such as Baltimore (Andrea Chenier), Cincinnati (Il Trovatore), Houston (Pagliacci), Pittsburgh (Pagliacci), and San Antonio (Faust)

1963

Sings Carmina Burana at Chicago’s Grant Park Festival, conducted by Julius Rudel

October 18, 1964

New York City Opera debut Faust (Valentin, opposite Norman Treigle as Mephistopheles)

Dec 22, 1965

Metropolitan Opera debut in Faust (Valentin) at old Met (also Caballé’s debut); from 1965 to 1997 Sherrill is a principal artist at the Met, singing 652 performances, and honored with 16 new productions, seven opening nights, and ten national telecasts

1965

​Daughter, Erin, is born

October 20, 1966

Sings for the first time at the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center (Valentin in Faust)

1967

Creates the role of Adam Brant in Martin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra at the Met, conducted by Zubin Mehta and staged by Zorba the Greek director Michael Cacoyannis

1968-1972

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1968

Performances at the Met as the Miller in Luisa Miller (with Montserrat Caballé and Richard Tucker) catapult Sherrill to international stardom

1969

Wins his first Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording (RCA’s Così fan tutte with Leontyne Price, Judith Raskin, Tatiana Troyanos, George Shirley, Ezio Flagello, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf)

1969

Marries Nancy Stokes

1969

Sherrill’s beloved mother, Thelma, succumbs to cancer; Sherrill conducts Mendelssohn’s Elijah at home in Illinois in her honor

1970

European debut at the Vienna State Opera in title role of Verdi’s Macbeth (under Karl Böhm, with Christa Ludwig, Karl Ridderbusch)

1971

Lyric Opera of Chicago debut Don Carlo (Posa)

1971

Covent Garden debut Un ballo in maschera (Renato)

1972

Wins his second Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording (RCA’s Aida with Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry, Plácido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, and the London Symphony Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf)

1972

Son Shawn is born

1975-1980

514x8g4sk7LWith First Lady Betty Ford; my first visit to the White House, 1976With President Ronald Reagan and first Lady Nancy Reagan, 1984.
1975

Wins his third Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording (RCA’s La bohème with Montserrat Caballé, Judith Blegen, Plácido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Georg Solti)

1975

Writes, hosts, and sings for his film Homage to Verdi, shot on location in Italy, which takes the viewer through Verdi’s Italy

1976

First appearance at the White House; performs at a State Dinner for the Prime Minister of Australia, Henry Kissinger, Shirley Temple Black, Gregory Peck, and other guests, hosted by President and Mrs. Gerald Ford

1977

Sings at the Inauguration Day prayer service for President Jimmy Carter in 18° temperature, televised from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

1979

Sherrill’s father dies

1980

Performs at the White House for a state dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan; first of many times for the 40th President

1983-1988

Screen-Shot-2015-01-09-at-12.51.04-PMWith Beverly Sills in Thais.Sherrill with the then mayor of New York, Ed Koch, presenting me with the Spirit of New York Award
1983

Appears as himself on Tony Randall’s TV show, Love, Sidney in the episode “Surprise Party”

1983

Honored as a Commendatore of the Italian Republic

1985

Sherrill Milnes: An All-Star Gala is filmed in East Berlin; introduced by Burt Lancaster, Sherrill’s collaborating artists include Mirella Freni, Placido Domingo, Julia Migenes-Johnson, Peter Schreier, and Jon Spong; available on DVD

1986

Sherrill Milnes at Juilliard: An Opera Master Class video is released

1985

Makes first appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors, singing duets with Carol Burnett as a tribute to honoree Beverly Sills, broadcast live on CBS-TV; subsequently participated in celebrations for honorees Jessye Norman, Victor Borge, Luciano Pavarotti, and Joan Sutherland

July 5, 1986

Performs in Central Park at the New York Philharmonic’s tribute to the 100th anniversary of Statue of Liberty, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and broadcast live on ABC-TV

1987

Receives New York City’s Seal of Recognition for his contributions to the city’s cultural life from Mayor Ed Koch

1988

Sings Fourth of July concert with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich for more than half a million people in front of the Capitol on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

1990-1997

December 22, 1990

Sherrill’s 25th anniversary at the Met is honored with a radio broadcast ceremony onstage during Andrea Chénier

1991

Performs in the Met’s star-studded 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, broadcast live on PBS-TV, and available on DVD

1993

Organizes a benefit concert in Vienna’s famed St. Stephen’s Cathedral for the victims of the Bosnia-Herzegovina War

1996

Honored by the French government with the Chevalier de l’Ordre Arts et des Lettres

1996

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani marries Sherrill and soprano Maria Zouves at City Hall (Dec. 19, 1996)

1996

Performs in James Levine’s 25th Anniversary Gala at the Met, released by Deutsche Grammophon on DVD

March 22, 1997

Final performance at the Met in Aida (Amonasro); from 1965 to 1997 Sherrill sang 652 performances as a principal artist at the Met, and was honored with 16 new productions, seven opening nights, and ten national telecasts

1997

Sings American premiere of George Antheil’s opera Transatlantic with Minnesota Opera (Ajax)

1998-2000

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May 27, 1998

Makes conducting debut in Carnegie Hall with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and baritone Mark Delevan in the title role; the work is his mother’s favorite oratorio: Mendelssohn’s Elijah

1998

Schirmer Books publishes his memoir, American Aria: From Farm Boy to Opera Star

1999

Sherrill is invited to judge for the first time at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition

2000

Son Theophilos (Theo) Zouves Milnes is born

2000

Founds VOICExperience Foundation with soprano Maria Zouves, a non-profit organization that trains and mentors singers and builds audiences for the vocal arts

2000

Joins the faculty at Northwestern University as the John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music

2000

Makes operatic conducting debut: Aida with Memphis Opera

2003-2015

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2003

Sherrill is inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston, which was started by President John Adams

2007

Amadeus Press publishes second edition of his memoir, updated as American Aria: Encore

2008

Receives Opera News Award for Distinguished Achievement

2003

Honored with membership in the Lincoln Academy, the highest award by State of Illinois

2013

Founds the Savannah VOICE Festival with soprano Maria Zouves, as a companion to VOICExperience, bringing classical vocal excellence to the Savannah, Georgia area through concerts, fully staged operas, educational presentations and community outreach

February 2015

Opera Tampa honors Sherrill with Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award

December 22, 2015

50th Anniversary of Sherrill’s Met debut