James Morris and Sherrill Milnes were both born on Jan. 10, though Milnes is 12 years older than his American colleague. The two shared the stage on several occasions with Milnes taking on leading baritone roles and Morris championing the leading bass parts.
Their voices usually aren’t categorized in the same manner, Milnes being a baritone and Morris a bass-baritone. And yet the two actually sang some of the same roles throughout their respective career. Here is a look at how they dovetailed throughout the years.
Morris has often taken on the smaller parts like Lodovico in this masterpiece, but there was a time when he portrayed the villain as well, most famously at the Met Opera with Plácido Domingo and Renée Fleming in leading roles.
Milnes, of course, was a noted Iago interpreter, portraying the famous manipulator all around the world, committing his interpretation to record (with Domingo and Renata Scotto).
Both men interpreted the famous libertine in their time, and both did so at the Metropolitan Opera. Milnes took on the famous character 32 times in New York, while Morris famously took on the role in 1978 with Joan Sutherland. He would appear as the character between 1975 and 1994.
Milnes’ Scarpia is legendary, the baritone performing it widely and recording it both on audio and on video. Morris came to Scarpia later on in his career once the voice started losing its higher reaches.
Morris took on the bullfighter a handful of times at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1970s, while Milnes’ recording with Tereza Berganza and Domingo is legendary.
James Morris is a noted Ramfis but there was a stretch in his career during which he turned his attention to the Ethiopian King. He was James Levine’s choice for the recording that also featured Aprile Millo, Domingo, Dolora Zajick, and Samuel Ramey as Ramfis. Meanwhile, Milnes performed and recorded “Aida” extensively. His famous recording stars Domingo, Leontyne Price, and Grace Bumbry.