Beverly Sills, the American ‘coloratura queen’, never reached the high status that colleagues Callas and Sutherland had in Europe. In fact, many people did not even know she existed. The reason? Lack of an exclusive contract with an important company. And: she did not travel. As the mother of two severely handicapped children, she wanted to be with her children as much as possible.
Beverly Sills (25 May 1929 – 2 July 2007), was born in Brooklyn as Belle Miriam Silverman. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Odessa and Bucharest. As a child, she spoke Yiddish, Russian, Romanian, French and English.
Although she had an enormous repertoire, that ranged from Handel and Mozart to Puccini,, she was best known for her interpretations of coloratura soprano roles. Her radiant high D’s and E-flats sounded seemingly effortless and natural.
She was most associated with Donizetti’s operas: Lucia di Lammermoor, La fille du régiment and the three ‘Tudor queens’. Her Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux is simply the best ever.
But also her Manon and Thaïs(Massenet) are unforgettable, as is her Violetta (La Traviata) and all three female roles in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann. Yes, she sang all three in one evening.