Beverly Sills is well known for her operatic
talent as a Soprano
and her amazing stage presence. Born in 1929 in Brooklyn
, Ms. Sills grew up in a very diverse
neighborhood. Her parents, as well as many of her neighbor’s parents, were direct immigrants
from Europe. Thus, she grew up in a middle class
community, and could speak fluent Russian
, and English. Her father disapproved of her desire to be a stage woman, insisting that women who performed on stage were lowly people. However, despite her father’s claim that Beverly could never return home again if she left to sing, Ms. Sills left home to tour at the age of 15. Eventually her father came to hear her perform, and invited her to come back home. She was then given enough money by her family to continue studying and performing.
Beverly Sills has performed more than 70 opera roles in her career. Her highest peak of performance was in the 1960s and 70s, when she was titled America’s Queen of Opera. She married into a wealthy family with three stepchildren. Her first-born child, Muffy, was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at the age of 2, and her son Peter was diagnosed as mentally retarded. Beverly Sills left the stage to take care of her children, but eventually returned. She toured Europe in the summers during her children’s vacations. She retired from the stage in 1980.
Ms. Sills is the National Chair of March of Dimes’ Mothers’ March on Birth Defects. She has helped to raise over $70 million dollars in ten years. From 1979-1991 she was the general director of the New York City Opera. She was the chairman of the Lincoln Center between 1994-2002. Currently she is the Chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera. She has been named the Presidential appointee to the President’s Task Force on the Arts, and gives master classes around the world, including recent trips to China. She has won a Grammy Award, Europe’s Edison Award, and two Emmys. Beverly Sills has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the New York City Handel Medallion, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Ms. Sills is a famous member of the Sigma Alpha Iota professional music fraternity, and has made wonderful contributions to the music profession.