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Beverly Sills - Made in America

Beverly Sills
Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000799909  
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Beverly Sills
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Region: 0 (all)
Sound: IPCM Stereo / Dolby Digial 5.1 / DTS 5.1

* Documentary celebrating the career of Beverly Sills, America's diva.
* Beverly Sills' greatness and recognition as a coloratura soprano and as the director of an opera company is the epitome of the American success story.
* Includes performances and interviews from 1930-1980.
* Bonus material includes highlights from La Traviata from 1955 - first time release in any format.

This is a decidedly uncritical documentary about the great American coloratura Beverly Sills. Told in several chapters--"America's Queen of Opera", "Life as a Child Star", "The Early Career", "Stardom",
Read more "Metropolitan Opera Debut", etc.--it charts Sills' career from her performances in 1939 as a child star on Major Bowes' Amateur Hour to her farewell to the stage in 1980. It makes stops at performances on a radio soap opera; singing Baby Doe's aria in concert with composer Douglas Moore in attendance; an English-language performance of the Queen of the Night aria; a superb Lucia "Mad Scene"; performances and interviews on television with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, David Frost, Dick Cavett; outings with Carol Burnett, the Muppets, Dean Martin, and Lily Tomlin; arias from Barbiere, Traviata, Roberto Devereux, Ariadne auf Naxos, Giulio Cesare, Don Pasquale, and more from live performances.

Interspersed are informative, candid, and entertaining interviews with Sills in which she discusses her brilliant career and some of her life's sadnesses. What the viewer/listener comes away with is a portrait of a great artist who never once has doubted her talents; a workaholic who adores opera as an art form and a means of expression.

The singing throughout is staggering: even the performances from late in her career, where a decided beat has entered sustained notes, are models of professionalism and superb technique. In the very early selections--and I mean very early, as in those from the '30s when she was just a little girl (Arditi's "Il bacio" and "Caro nome")--you already can hear Sills' natural sense of phrasing and innate feel for the music: it's almost eerie.

There's nary a word about colleagues or disappointments, let alone any sort of vocal decline, but that's obviously not the issue. Sills as a home-grown, did-it-her-way artist is the focus, and as such this is both a valuable and fascinating document. Its only flaw is that it practically exists in a vacuum--it's entirely Sills-centric. Love it or leave it.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

La traviata: Excerpt(s) by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Beverly Sills (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1955 

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