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Sills, Beverly

Sills, Beverly

Born in 1929


Inducted in 2000

Born Belle Miriam Silverman, performed on radio at age three, and continued to perform on radio, television, film, and in commercials. She began her vocal studies at age seven with Estelle Liebling, and studied piano with Paul Gallico. Frasquita in Carmen was Beverly Sills’ operatic debut in 1947 with the Philadelphia Civic Opera. She toured with several companies, and made her debut at the San Francisco Opera in 1953. Sills made her debut at the New York City Opera, which would be her artistic home for many years, in 1955 as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus. With her repertoire including more than 70 operas, many of the world’s most famous opera houses welcomed Beverly Sills. Her first appearance with the Metropolitan Opera came in July 1966 at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City. Her debut at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center took place nine years later, in 1975, as Pamira in Rossini’s Siege of Corinthe. Sills’ farewell performance in 1980 was subsequently broadcast on Public Television System’s “Great Performances” in 1981. She was named General Director of the New York City Opera in 1980, thus beginning her new career as an arts administrator. Under her leadership, the New York City Opera promoted the careers of American singers, broadened the company’s repertoire, launched the City Opera’s first summer season, and introduced English subtitles for all of the company’s foreign-language productions. Sills retired as General Director in 1988, and served as President of the New York City Opera Board in 1989-1990. In recognition of Beverly Sills’ contribution to the arts, the outstanding American soprano has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the New York City Handel Medallion, Kennedy Center Honors, and honorary degrees from Harvard University, New York University and the California Institute of the Arts.