Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #35

Beverly Sills (1929 – 2007)

35 Beverly Sills

New York is a city where loyalties run deep. And few New Yorkers have shown more fierce loyalty than Beverly Sills. Born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, Sills was a lyric coloratura who came to be known as “America’s Queen of Opera”. Her career rose at a time when all the best opera singers were presumed to be European and the Met refused to hire an American leading lady. Sills found her niche in the fledgling New York City Opera and the she and the company rose to prominence together. When the Met finally did come calling, Sills refused to leave her artistic home and did not make her Met debut until significantly later. For a soprano of her stature, Sills also made surprisingly few international appearances in order to stay close to her family. After retiring from the stage, she spent a decade as General Manager of NYCO and later chairwoman of Lincoln Center.


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