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- Belle Miriam Silverman
- United States
Beverly Sills (b.25th May 1929)was an American operatic soprano who enjoyed success in the 1960s and 1970s and was best known for her performances in coloratura soprano roles in operas around the world and on recordings. Since retiring from singing in 1980 she became general manager of the New York City Opera. In 1994 she became the Chairman of Lincoln Center and then in 2002 of the Metropolitan Opera before quitting in 2005. Sills was born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, New York to Shirley Bahn (nee Sonia Markovna), a musician and Morris Silverman, an insurance worker. She began to sing at the age of three when she won a Miss Beautiful Baby contest and then at the age of four she performed professionally on the Saturday morning radio program Rainbow House, as Bubbles Silverman. In 1938 at the age of nine she appeared in the short film Uncle Sol Solves It in which at that time she had adopetd her stage name, Beverly Sills. In 1945 she made her professional singing debut with a Gilbert and Sullivan touring company produced by Jacob J. Shubert,playing twelve cities in the USA and Canada,offering seven diffrent Gilbert and Sullivan operas. In 1947, she made her operatic stage debut as the Spanish gypsy Frasquita in Bizet's Carmen with the Philadelphia Civic Opera. She toured North America with the Charles Wagner Opera Company, in the fall of 1951 singing Violetta in La Traviata and, in the fall of 1952, singing Micaela in Carmen. On September 15, 1953 she made her debut with the San Francisco Opera as Helen of Troy in Boito's Mefistofele and also sang Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni the same season. On October 29, 1955 she first appeared with the New York City Opera as Rosalinde in Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, which received critical praise. On November 17, 1956 Sills married journalist Peter Greenough and moved to Cleveland. She had two children with Greenough, Meredith ("Muffy") in 1959 and Peter,Jr.("Bucky") in 1961. Muffy was profoundly deaf and Peter was severly mentally disabled. Sills restricted her performing schedule to care for her children. In 1966 Sills' performance as Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare at the New York City Opera had made her an international opera star. Having quit her job in 2005 as Met chairman, citing family as the main reason(she had finally had to place her husband, whom she had cared for over eight years, in a nursing home). Peter Greenough, Sills' husband, died on September 6, 2006, at the age of 89 less than a year before Sills herself died of lung cancer on June 28, 2007 at the age of 78.