From ECO program note author Professor Annmarie George
The Erie Times-News had hired me to do an interview of Robert Merrill to appear as the cover story in a forthcoming ‘Showcase’ tabloid. I met Mr. Merrill, the world famous baritone, for lunch as he suggested and got a wonderful interview done while having a wonderful lunch. After lunch, we were walking down the rather elegant staircase in the Park Plaza Hotel when we observed quite a few people seeming very upset. Mr. Merrill inquired from one of the bellboys and found out that the then President Reagan had just been shot!
Mr. Merrill asked me if I’d like to go with him to the Columbia Artists Building where we could watch at least 5 different televisions all tuned to different news networks. I of course agreed, but then he asked me if I would rather ride over in his limousine or walk under his umbrella with him, on this lightly raining day, while he sang some of his favorite arias. I, of course, opted for the latter.
This story gets even better!
Once Mr. Merrill and I were comfortably seated before this bank of television sets, the one door opened and in walks Robert Goulet. You could have knocked me over with a feather at that point (and I didn’t wash the hand that Robert Goulet shook and kissed for at least a day afterwards). About twenty minutes later, Roberta Peters, a famous soprano, opens the door to watch the news with us as well! This is too much: I’m now seated with Robert Goulet on my right, Robert Merrill on my left and Roberta Peters next to Robert Merrill……Wow!