Down to Earth Diva Beverly Sills, Dead at 78

Many younger Americans remember opera star Beverly Sills making appearances on “Sesame Street” in the seventies, and other PBS children’s programming, too.

Opera fans and art devotees knew her as Cleopatra, in Handel’s “Julius Caesar”  a performance which many critics cite as her breakthrough role at City Opera, in 1966,

She dazzled in Massenet’s “Manon”; Violetta , in Verdi’s “La Traviata”; and the title role in Douglas Stuart Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe.”

The flame-haired soprano with her ebullient personality earned her the “America’s Queen of Opera,” title that Time magazine honored her with in 1971. 

Sills died July 2nd at the age of 78 in her Manhattan home according to her manager, Edgar Vincent.

Sills was known affectionately as “Bubbles.” 

Sills accomplished many difficult roles, notably as Elizabeth.  According to Mark Feeney of the Boston Globe, “Sills spent two hours being made up and wore a gown that weighed 55 pounds. ‘Elizabeth was not my finest role, but it was my finest accomplishment,’ Sills said in a 2000 Boston Globe interview. ‘I couldn’t depend on my dimples to get me through.'”




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