Beverly Sills - From First note to last

At the beginning of my career when doing Manon and Queen Elisabeth, it took me fifteen minutes to become Manon and two hours to become the old lady ... and in the end, it took me two hours to become Manon and fifteen minutes to become the old lady and I knew it was time to call it quits!" - Sills interviewed in "The Vocal Scene" by George Jellinek

in her own words

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"In Her Own Words" is a collection of audio excerpts from interviews with Beverly Sills on various radio and TV programs, including recital and radio broadcast intermissions.
To listen to these excerpts, click the play button on the  Player


November 19,1939
-
1.
Major Bowes Capitol Family Hour
broadcast from the Capitol Theater Building in New York City:
Verdi: Rigoletto - "Caro Nome" with Waldo Mayo & the Capitol Radio Orchestra/


Sills' first appearance on the variety, after winning the Major Bowes Amateur Hour three weeks earlier. This particular show was the 17th anniversary of the Capitol Family Hour. Bowes asks her about her grades, her teacher and how many arias she knows.

(To hear the aria, "Caro nome" that she sang on the program, click here. The complete transcript of this interview can be found here)


June 23,1969 -
2.
Dick Cavett Show

Sills' first appearance on the show. Sills discusses embellishments, her first recital LP, her "overnight" success, and her contention with Rudolf Bing over his offers for her debut at the Met. Sills jokes about tenors and sings her "Rinso White" commercial jingle.

May 11,1969 -
3.
Camera Three interview

Sills discusses the background of her triumph as Cleopatra in the
NYCO "Julius Caesar."

December 10,1969 -
4.
Boston - New England Conservatory of Music Benefit Recital - intermission interview

Sills discusses her program of mostly opera arias, put together for larger venues where art songs and lieder would be lost; speaks about the Siege of Corinth arias, fresh from her La Scala debut earlier in the year; refers to the newly acquired Vivaldi cantatas.

January 1971 -
5.
BBC Profiles in Music - interview with Bernard Levin

a. Sills talks of her children's disabilities; how Julius Rudel tricked her into coming back to NYCO; the "overnight" discovery as Cleopatra in "Julius Caesar."

b. Sills speaks of choosing roles and opera houses to accommodate being with her children.

c. Sills talks about separating her husband's life from her musical one; still considers NYCO her home company; how the NYCO crew helped her with Roberto Devereux.

d. Sills talks about her affinity for French repertoire

e. Sills tells amusing story of her three performances of Lucia at La Scala with three different tenors.


March 05,1971 -
6.
David Frost Show

Sills talks about taking care of her vocal cords and about her busy schedule.

November 15,1971 -
7.
Johnny Carson Tonight Show

Sills jokes about being on the same show with a singing dog act; talks about her concert with Zubin Metha and the LA Philharmonic the previous night; relates story about working on "Six Characters in Search of an Author" while pregnant and had to work with a dog; vocalizing at home; working with Marilyn Horne on La Scala debut.

March 23,1972 -
8.
Johnny Carson Tonight Show

Sills talks about singing the shower; being called "the fastest voice alive;" not ever wanting to sing Michaela in Carmen again; how she gets thorough a night when she isn't feeling "on" by talking a lot; avoiding certain foods.

September 15,1972 -
9.
Dick Cavett Show

Sills talks about the size of lungs and her experiences performing in a private gentlemen's club in New York City at age twenty.


February 15,1977 -
10.
Dayton Philharmonic Concert - intermission interview

Sills speaks about singing in her childhood years, auditioning for NYCO, relationship with  Rudolf Bing before and after her Met debut; comparison of NYCO and the Met; favorite roles; her upcoming retirement; three upcoming world premieres; upcoming recordings.

October 27,1980 -
11.
NYCO Farewell Gala

Sills tells about her only singing teacher, Estelle Liebling, and the Portuguese Folk Song titled "Tell Me Why" she translated and gave her when Sills was ten.


November 2000 -
12.
The Vocal Scene - interview with host George Jellinek
about the re-issue of the Donizetti Queens on CD


a. Sills explains why the re-issuing took so long; gives a history of her other recordings being re-issued; recounts how the Queens project started at NYCO; the make-up and costuming of Elizabeth I.

b. Sills compares the vocal challenges of the three parts; regrets that Maria Stuarda has no passionate love scene.

c. Sills talks about her favorite parts of Anna Bolena, especially the finale.

d. Sills relates more about the staging of Maria Stuarda; reflects on career, especially Manon; talks about Elizabeth I being her best role; tells about close friendship with Placido Domingo and how their careers developed.



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Total time = 1hr 26 minutes
Total files = 19