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Beverly Sills

From singing radio commercials to achieving international fame as a soprano opera singer, Beverly Sills devoted her life to performing, making her singing debut at the age of two. During her career she performed in more than 90 opera roles. She ended her singing career in 1980 claiming that she wanted to "put my voice to bed so it will go quietly, with pride."

Beverly Sills was born Belle Miriam Silverman to parents of Russian-Jewish descent. She won first prize in the Miss Beautiful Baby of 1932 contest singing "The Wedding of Jack and Jill." Recognizing Beverly's talents, her mother sent her to dance, piano, and voice lessons, the latter at the age of seven with popular singer Estelle Leibling. Sills did several radio commercials and a show on WOR radio called Uncle Bob's Rainbow House, where she had a singing and tap dancing routine. In 1938, she sang and tap danced in the film Uncle Sol Solves It.

At the age of 12, Sills temporarily "retired" from singing to pursue an education. She attended the P.S. 91 School and Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. After completing high school she went to Manhattan's Professional Children's School.

Sills re-entered the public realm in 1945 with the help of producer J.J. Schubert. She received many brief roles which eventually led to her starring in three operettas, Rose Marie, Countess Maritza, and The Merry Widow. Roles in these operettas led to her grand opera debut in 1947 in Georges Bizet's Carmen. With her father's death in 1949, Sills began touring the United States with the Charles L. Wagner Opera Company to make ends meet. She joined the New York City Opera in 1955 making her debut as Rosalinde in Johann Strauss' Die Fledermans.

Her personal life was moving as fast as her professional career. Sills married Peter Buckeley Greenough, associate editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1956. She "retired" again in 1961 when she found out her two-year-old daughter was deaf and her newborn son was mentally handicapped. Both her husband and New York City Opera manager Julius Rudel encouraged her to return to singing years later.

Although appearing with the Boston Opera Company in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Sills gained international fame in 1966 with the New York City Opera for her performance in Georg Handel's Guilio Cesare. She stayed with the New York City Opera and became its general manager effective July 1, 1979 after Julius Rudel's resignation in 1978.

Beverly Sills' singing career ended in 1980, but that did not keep her from her duties to the New York City Opera. In addition to her singing legacy, Sills helped the March of Dimes raise more than $80 million dollars before her death in 2007. ~ Kim Summers
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Masters of the Voice: Soprano

Disc 1
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Opera, K. 620

1. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), Opera, K. 620: Der Hölle Rache Kocht in Meinem Herzen

Title: Don Giovanni, Opera, K. 527

2. Don Giovanni, Opera, K. 527: Vedrai, Carino

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Title: Fidelio, Opera, Op. 72

3. Fidelio, Opera, Op. 72: Abscheulicher! Wo Eilst Du Hin?

4. Fidelio, Opera, Op. 72: Komm, Hoffnung...meister, Rocco

Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Title: Die Schöpfung (The Creation), Oratorio, H. 21/2

5. Die Schöpfung (The Creation), Oratorio, H. 21/2: Nun Beut Die Flur

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Title: Alcina, Opera, Hwv 34

6. Alcina, Opera, Hwv 34: Tornami A Vagheggiar

Title: Messiah, Oratorio, Hwv 56

7. Messiah, Oratorio, Hwv 56: He Shall Feed His Flock

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Title: Don Pasquale, Opera

8. Don Pasquale, Opera: So Anchio La Virtù Magica

Composer: Gioachino Rossini
Title: Semiramide, Opera

9. Semiramide, Opera: Serena I Vaghi Rai ... Bel Raggio Lusinghier

Composer: Charles Gounod
Title: Roméo Et Juliette, Opera

10. Roméo Et Juliette, Opera: Ah! Je Veux Vivre Dans Le

Composer: Richard Wagner
Title: Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Opera, Wwv 86b

11. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Opera, Wwv 86b: Nun Zäume Dein Ross, Reisige Maid

12. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Opera, Wwv 86b: Dir Rat'ich, Vater, Rüste Dich Selbst

Title: Tannhäuser, Opera, Wwv 70

13. Tannhäuser, Opera, Wwv 70: Dich, Teure Halle

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: Rigoletto, Opera

14. Rigoletto, Opera: Gualtier Malde!...caro Nome

Title: Aida, Opera

15. Aida, Opera: Ritorna Vincitor!

Title: La Traviata, Opera

16. La Traviata, Opera: E Strano!... Ah, Fors'è Lui

Disc 2
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Tosca, Opera
Title: Gianni Schicchi, Opera
Title: La Rondine (The Swallow), Opera
Composer: Georges Bizet
Title: Carmen, Opera
Composer: Léo Delibes
Title: Lakmé, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), Opera
Title: La Bohème, Opera
Composer: Jules Massenet
Title: Manon, Opera In 5 Acts
Composer: Ambroise Thomas
Title: Mignon, Opera In 3 Acts
Composer: Antonin Dvorák
Title: Rusalka, Opera, B. 203 (Op. 114)
Composer: Gustave Charpentier
Title: Louise, Opera
Composer: Richard Strauss
Title: Der Rosenkavalier, Opera, Op. 59 (Trv 227)
Composer: Francesco Cilea
Title: Adriana Lecouvreur, Opera
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Title: Glitter And Be Gay, For Soprano & Orchestra (from "Candide")
x

Track List: Voice Of Romance

Disc 1
Composer: Umberto Giordano
Title: Fedora, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Gianni Schicchi, Opera
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Title: Lucia Di Lammermoor, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Tosca, Opera

5. Tosca, Opera: I. Vissi D'arte, Vissi D'amore

Title: La Rondine (The Swallow), Opera
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage Of Figaro), Opera, K. 492
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Title: L'elisir D'amore, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), Opera
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Title: Don Pasquale, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Manon Lescaut, Opera
Disc 2
Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Title: Tonight, Song (from "West Side Story")
Composer: Cesare Andrea Bixio
Title: Mamma, For Voice & Orchestra

2. Mamma, For Voice & Orchestra: Mamma

Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: La Bohème, Opera
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: Il Trovatore, Opera
Composer: Friedrich von Flotow
Title: Martha, Opera
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: Rigoletto, Opera
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Title: Don Giovanni, Opera, K. 527
Title: Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage Of Figaro), Opera, K. 492
Composer: Joseph Marie Canteloube
Title: Malurous Qu'o Uno Fenno, Folksong For Voice & Orchestra (Chants D'auvergne, Series 3, No. 5)
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Title: Les Contes D'hoffmann, Opera In 4 Acts
Composer: Georges Bizet
Title: Carmen, Opéra-comique In 4 Acts
Composer: Eldo di Lazzaro
Title: Chitarra Romana For Voice & Orchestra
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Title: Aida, Opera
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Title: Turandot, Opera

16. Turandot, Opera: Nessun Dorma

Comments

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She's the best!
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baileymunoz
I could listen to her all day and have when I was a teenager.

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