o celebrate American coloratura soprano Beverly Sills’ 75th birthday this year, Deutsche Grammophon has released this splendid two-CD set, a companion to the previous compilation, The Art of Beverly Sills (DG 471 766-2). In her prime, Sills possessed a voice noted not only for its technical brilliance, but also for its incredible emotional impact. A powerful tragedienne and an equally irrepressible comedienne, Sills could float a silvery pianissimo of such beauty and pathos that might make one weep.
This new collection features an array of arias and ensembles from operas with which Sills was most associated: Massenet’s Manon, Bellini’s I Puritani, Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Verdi’s La traviata. Also included are excerpts from her two sensational debut solo albums on the Westminster label, which date from 1968/1969, when she was in her vocal prime. Those two discs documented some of her finest singing, such as the arias from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable.