Merrill was a very early success at the Met, arriving by way of Grossinger's, Major Bowes' Amateur Hour and NBC Opera Auditions. His youth was spent in utter poverty on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn's Brownsville ghetto; his father was a tailor, his mother a termagant... He analYZeS his miscalculated marriage to Roberta Peters and his productive second marriage to a pianist. Here and there, the reader will find himself sliding in suds. Merrill's musical insights are seldom profound but always enthusiastic -- and one comes away with new respect for opera and its stars.