Amy Tate Williams & Randy Williams
2018 Recipients

Mr. Metropolitan

Francis Robinson (1910-1980) loved opera from the very day he heard Enrico Caruso on the Victrola at his school.  He began his career in the theatre as an usher at the Ryman Auditorium while he was studying at Vanderbilt.  He later worked as a reporter and Sunday editor of the Nashville Banner; a writer, actor, and producer for WSM Radio; and a theatrical press agent for William Fields, where his clients included Katharine Cornell, Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, and Cornelia Otis Skinner.  After World War II, Robinson was hired by impresario Sol Hurok to help with the Metropolitan Opera annual tours.  Robinson’s extraordinary gift for public relations led to the expansion of his duties at the Met to include head of the box office and subscriptions, and in 1954 he was made assistant manager of the company under the legendary Rudolf Bing.  He went on to spend more than thirty years at the Metropolitan Opera.  In 1978, Robinson became host for the telecast series Live from the Met, reaching out to opera audiences around the country.

Previous Recipients

Marilyn Shields-Wiltsie and Dr. Theodore E. Wiltsie, 2016
G. Helen Brown, Ph.D., 2015
Shelley Page, 2014
Joseph H. Allen, M.D., 2013
The Judy Liff and Joe Barker Family, 2012
Earl S. Swensson, 2011
June Greer Bogle, 2010
Marion Pickering Couch, 2009
Marguerite Fish, 2008
William O. Whetsell, Jr., M.D., 2007
Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, posthumous, 2006
Carol Penterman, John Hoomes, Cara Schneider, 2005

"The Metropolitan Opera is not just a living, it’s my life.” 
Francis Robinson, photo courtesy of The Francis Robinson Collection of Theatre, Music, and Dance, Vanderbilt University Special Collections