Beverly Sills (1929-2007)
Seventy-eight years ago, Belle Miriam Silverman was born in Brooklyn, New York. By the age of seven, she already acquired a singing career, winning a “Miss Beautiful Baby” contest, performing on the radio show, Rainbow House, and singing in Uncle Sol Solves It. By 1939, the former Silverman changed her name to Beverly Sills, and became a frequent guest on Capital Family Hour. In 1947, Sills performed Frasquita in Bizet’s opera, Carmen, launching her long-lasting operatic career. By 1958, she performed as Helon of Troy in Mefistofele, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and the title role in The Ballad of Baby Doe. On November 17th, 1956, Sills married Peter Greenough, journalist for The Plain Dealer.
In 1966, Sill’s performed as Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, earning her international fame. She soon began to record her operas: Giulio Cesare, Roberto Devereux, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, and The Tales of Hoffman. Sills then won praise singing Grossmachtige Prinzessin in 1969. Later that year, she debuted as Pamira in The Siege of Corinth, placing her on the cover of Newsweek. In 1971, Time magazine put Sills on the cover, describing her as “America’s Queen of Opera.” In 1975, Sills debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in The Siege of Corinth, leading to her future performances in Thais, La Traviata, Don Pasquale, and Lucia di Lammermoor. Later, Sills began to publicize opera, appearing on talk shows and becoming a recitalist.
Sills retired as a singer on October 27, 1980 at the New York City Opera, soon becoming its general director. In 2002, she became the chairman of the Metropolitan Opera, keeping the position until 2005 because of family problems. Her husband, Greenough, died on September 6, 2006. Less than a year later, Sills was diagnosed with lung cancer, leading to her death on July 2nd, 2007, at the age of 78.