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Thursday, May 28, 2015

From a music lover: Happy Birthday, Beverly Sills

Her life, her art, her attitude in thoughts
Editing by Carolyn Bennett

We remember American treasure Beverly Sills whose birthday fell on this year’s U.S.-celebrated Memorial Day. Her life spanned May 25, 1929 – July 2, 2007; her peak performing years as a soprano on the stage of opera 1950s -1970s.

“A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.” ―Beverly Sills

Her professional stage debut came in 1945 “with a Gilbert and Sullivan touring company produced by Jacob J. Shubert, playing twelve cities in the United States and Canada, offering seven different Gilbert and Sullivan operas.” Her performance as Cleopatra in the New York City Opera’s revival of Handel’s opera seria Giulio Cesare in 1966 made her an international opera star.

Born of parents who had immigrated from Odessa, Ukraine (then part of Russia) and Bucharest, Romania, Beverly Sills was multilingual before entering the arena of opera—her signature roles on stage including  title roles “in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, in Massenet’s Manon, Marie in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment, the three heroines in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, and Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux. In an operatic career spanning thirty years, she “recorded eighteen full-length operas”, “nine solo recital albums of arias and songs, and “was soprano soloist on a 1967 recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.”

Roles beyond opera stage performance 
“My voice had a long, nonstop career. It deserves to be put to bed with quiet and dignity, not yanked out every once in a while to see if it can still do what it used to do; it can’t.” ―Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills retired from the stage of opera in 1980 and assumed the roles of general manager of the New York City Opera; chair of Lincoln Center (1994) and the Metropolitan Opera (2002), and lent her celebrity to charities “for the prevention and treatment of birth defects.”
In television, Beverly Sills starred in eight opera productions televised on PBS and several more on other public TV systems.  In television specials she appeared in “A Look-in at the Met with Danny Kaye” (1975), with Carol Burnett in “Sills and Burnett at the Met (1976), the Emmy-Award winning “Profile in Music” (recorded in England in 1971, showing in the United States in 1975). Some of the televised performances were commercially distributed on videotape and DVD.

Lincoln  Center
Honor honored 
“I had found a kind of serenity, a new maturity... I didn't feel better or stronger than anyone else but it seemed no longer important whether everyone loved me or not--more important now was for me to love them. Feeling that way turns your whole life around; living becomes the act of giving.” ―Beverly Sills

New York City Opera House
Beverly Sills received many awards including Grammy and Emmy nominations. Some of the honors included the Handel Medallion from New York City for artistic achievement (1973); Recording Industry of America Cultural Award (1979); Golden Baton, American Symphony Orchestra League (1980); Kennedy Center Honors (1985); Induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2007); Pearl S. Buck Women’s Award (1979); 

The Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980); Barnard College Medal of Distinction (1981); Honorary doctorates in music: Temple University (1972), New York University and New England Conservatory of Music(1973), Harvard University (1974), California Institute of the Arts (1975);

Approachably plain speaking 
far left?
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. …  
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.” ―Beverly Sills

Beverly Sills has been described as “down-to-earth and approachable,” one who “helped dispel the traditional image of the ‘temperamental opera diva’.” In the late 1970s’ Sunday morning on network television she hosted “Lifestyles with Beverly Sills”, her talk show that won an Emmy Award. In her talk show appearances on programming shows such as Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, David Frost, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, she “popularized opera.”

New York's
Brooklyn Bridge
Beverly Sills co-hosted American television’s “The View for Best Friends Week (November 9, 2006) as Barbara Walters’ best friend. She appeared on screen in movie theaters during HD transmissions live from the Met and as a backstage interviewer in February and April 2007. 

Beverly Sills was born “Belle Miriam Silverman” in Brooklyn, New York, May 25, 1929.

Sources and notes

Beverly Sills—biographical information at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Sills

Beverly Sills—biographical information on a website dedicated to preserving the artistry and humanity of Beverly Sills, offering an in-depth look at her life and career through print, sound and video, http://www.beverlysillsonline.com/

Quote Links: http://izquotes.com/author/beverly-sills

Coloratura soprano: a type of operatic soprano who specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills. Coloratura refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Categories within a certain vocal range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice. Within the coloratura category are roles written specifically for lighter voices, “lyric coloraturas”, others for larger voices, “dramatic coloraturas”; some roles may be sung by either voice.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloratura_soprano

Soprano: “a type of classical female singing voice”, the highest vocal range of all voice types. Vocal range (using scientific pitch notation): approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to ‘high A’ (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to ‘soprano C’ (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soprano


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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