Ed Sullivan welcomed famed opera star Robert Merrill to his show in 1959. The incredible baritone singer performed ‘Vesti La Giubba’ while completely mesmerizing Sullivan’s studio audience.
Robert Merrill is wearing a full tuxedo. The black-and-white footage features him performing with perfect tone and power. The song begins softer and builds to a louder finale. Robert was a frequent performer at the Metropolitan Opera.
Robert is accompanied by the sounds of a full orchestra. The musicians capture the feel of being at the opera house for Sullivan’s TV audience. There is an impressive amount of emotion being portrayed on the instruments.
Robert conveys emotion with his facial expressions. At one point, he does a stage laugh to perfectly play the part. His arms are used throughout to express the emotion of the famous opera character ‘Pagliacci.’
‘Vesti la Giubba’ is translated to mean ‘Put on the costume.’ After Pagliacci, the clown discovers his wife’s infidelity, he sings this song while preparing to wear his costume. The show must go on!
The concept of the ‘tragic clown’ who is smiling on the outside but laughing on the inside is portrayed wonderfully by Robert. The song was previously made famous by Enrico Caruso, who reached over a million record sales in 1907.
This beautiful yet tragic song has been featured in commercials and TV shows over the years. The famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti also performed this song as one of his signature numbers. Robert Merrill on ‘Sullivan’ set the new standard for fantastic operatic voices in 1959.