High Note

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After a triumphant career spanning four decades, 650 performances at the Met and three Grammys, acclaimed operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes is hesitant to choose a moment in which he knew he’d made it.

“That makes great movies, but in my case, I don’t think there was a moment,” he says. “I always said to myself, ‘let’s see how I am in a year. If I’m better a year from now, I’ll keep going.’”

Milnes is known to the industry as a “Verdi baritone” due to his fondness for Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. After he retired from the stage, Milnes and his wife Maria Zouves created the Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs as a way to support the vocal arts through life-changing intensive work shops, performances, and community enriching outreach events, including the Savannah VOICE Festival.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s festival will be completely virtual. Milnes and Zouves even filmed a Meet the Maestro video series in which Milnes answers questions from Facebook users about his star-studded career. When he can visit Savannah again, the first thing Milnes plans to do is to unpack. “We just recently bought a house in Savannah, and the movers left all the furniture, but we’ll have to rearrange things,” Milnes says. “Then, Leopold’s for ice cream.”