Sunday Morning Opera: The Greatest Soprano There Ever Was


Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 2.00.57 PMWednesday would have been Beverly Sills 87th birthday.  When it comes to Bubbles, where do you begin?  I’ll start with my favorite and end with a favorite.  Her death, in 2007, devastated me.  I was on my way to Tombstone that day, when I heard it on the the news.  I drove, and cried.  I was only able to see her live, once, but that was an honor.  When I was in college, my medieval prof was almost a groupie.  The day she finally debuted at the Met he called off his classes and gave every single one of his students a major test A, to celebrate.  I named a cat after her – Bubbles.  She would approve, considering her wonderful sense of humor.

“…Following Sir Rudolf Bing’s departure as director, Sills finally made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera on April 7, 1975 in The Siege of Corinth, receiving an eighteen-minute ovation. Other operas she sang at the Met include La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Thaïs, and Don Pasquale (directed by John Dexter). In an interview after his retirement, Bing stated that his refusal to use Sills, as well as his preference for engaging, almost exclusively, Italian stars such as Renata Tebaldi – due to his notion that American audiences expected to see Italian stars – was the single biggest mistake of his career. Sills attempted to downplay her animosity towards Bing while she was still singing, and even in her two autobiographies. But in a 1997 interview, Sills spoke her mind plainly, “Oh, Mr. Bing is an ass. [W]hile everybody said what a great administrator he was and a great this, Mr. Bing was just an improbable, impossible General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera…. The arrogance of that man.”…”

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I still cry when I think about her being no longer with us.  Of all the lives, I think hers is one of the most important to me, as a person and a role model.  I shed a tear even writing this.  She was that special.   Her life was lived under such heart-ache.  Her daughter was born profoundly deaf.  She never heard a word her mother sang.  Her son was violently autistic.  She was the primary care-giver for her husband who had Alzheimer’s. Yet, she triumphed.