V0351. BEVERLY SILLS: Breit' uber mein Haupt (Richard Strauss); Arias from The Ballad of Baby Doe, Die Tote Stadt, Die Lustige Witwe, Der Opernball, Daphne, Zaïde, Les Contes d'Hoffmann,Mignon, Manon, Louise, Linda di Chamounix, Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena, Lucia & I Puritani. 2-DG 471 766. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy!
“All of these (previously available) selections catch Sills at or near her best, which is to say before 1973, when the roles of Elisabetta in ROBERTO DEVEREUX and ANNA BOLENA had taken their toll on her voice.
Because she’s sort of the guest-who-won’t-leave, it’s easy to forget how spectacular Sills was: absolutely fluid in passage-work at any speed, a trill to die for (though it invariably, and oddly, starts on the wrong note), solid up to an E-flat, no fear of chest voice (the finale of ANNA BOLENA is very potent), capable of glorious, sustained pianissimo singing (in MANON, LOUISE, the ‘Vilja’ lied, and Elisabetta’s first-act aria), dead-on staccatos (as Linda di Chamounix and the Hoffman Doll), and glorious legato (the DAPHNE final scene is riveting). Her tone might have been slim and a bit wiry, but dramatically she could easily transform herself with her phrasing and attitude. This is a great collection, and if you don’t own the sets from which it’s taken (and don’t want to commit to such an expense), do yourself a favor and buy this.
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com, 7 Jan., 2003
“By her early teens Sills was having serious vocal training with a renowned teacher and laying the foundations to a technique that was to be her mainstay throughout her career. She made her professional debut in 1947 and then worked and toured with various U.S. opera companies before making her debut with the New York City Opera in 1955. She went on to become unofficial prima donna of the NYCO. However, Sills’ international career did not take off until that company moved to the Lincoln Center in 1966 where she had a spectacular success in the florid role of Cleopatra in Handel’s JULIUS CAESAR. First appearances in Vienna (1967), La Scala (1969) and Covent Garden (1970) were made to acclaim, but she had to wait until 1975 for setting foot in her hometown international house, The Met, when they mounted THE SIEGE OF CORINTH for her. She later sang Violetta, Lucia, Thais and Norina there. Throughout her career Sills remained faithful to the City Opera who mounted many bel-canto works for her, particularly Donizetti’s Three Tudor Queens. After her retirement from singing, in 1979, she was, for 10 years, general director of the company.
Sills’ voice was that of a superbly schooled lyric coloratura soprano, the high notes, and there are plenty on these discs, are hit, not slid up to. Added to that was the singer’s skill as an actress. On stage, like Callas, she became the part she was portraying. Whereas Joan Sutherland, who assayed much the same fach contemporaneously with Sills, had a fuller tone, Sills’ lighter, whiter voice (in no way meant to be critic-speak for thin or shrill!), with greater clarity of diction, allied to her histrionic strengths, had an overwhelming effect in the theatre.”
- Robert J. Farr, MusicWeb-International