(b Milan, 27 Jan 1887; d Milan, 12 Dec 1976). Italian tenor. He studied in Milan with Carlo Negrini, and began his career in 1916 as a second tenor in Buenos Aires, then sang Alvaro in Gaspare Spontini's Fernand Cortez at La Scala. He was soon singing larger roles, and in 1918 he sang Elisero (Mosè in Egitto) and created Fausto in Alberto Favara's Urania at La Scala (1918), where he continued to appear until 1942, sharing the dramatic tenor roles in the repertory with Aureliano Pertile. He sang at Covent Garden between 1926 and 1930 and was the first London Calaf in Turandot. His appearances at the Metropolitan, where he made his début as Radames in 1932, were dogged by ill-health and he was never re-engaged. He participated in numerous revivals of works by Alberto Franchetti, Carlos Gomes, Alfredo Catalani and Riccardo Zandonai and continued to sing until 1948. Merli had a powerful and resonant voice, and his feeling for words was notable. Among his recordings are vivid portrayals of Manrico, Canio and Calaf.
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.