Beverly Sills


Schubert Club Performances:

  • October 19, 1970
  • October 21, 1972
  • September 20, 1975
  • October 12, 1979

America’s Queen of Opera, a.k.a. “Bubbles”

She was called “America’s Queen of Opera” by TIME magazine and known as “Bubbles” to her fans. Soprano Beverly Sills was the face of opera for millions through her performances, recordings and broadcasts in a singing career that began on radio in the late 1930s and ended with a farewell gala in 1980 at New York City Opera, her home base since 1955. After her retirement from the stage, she became the company’s general director.

During the last decade of her vocal career, Sills appeared no fewer than four times for the Schubert Club, though surprisingly she never included any American music in her St. Paul recitals. One role that had brought her early fame was the title character in Douglas Moore’s opera The Ballad of Baby Doe, which she sang in the opera’s New York premiere at City Opera in 1958. Here she is a few years later in a televised performance of Baby Doe’s “Willow Song”, introduced by the composer:

Her repertoire was wide-ranging, but what distinguished Beverly Sills’s artistry above all was her command of florid singing as a vehicle of musical drama. The singing authority J. B. Steane wrote of its “remarkable intellectual and emotional strength”. Her sensational success as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in 1966 led to a series of bel canto revivals for her at City Opera and, very soon, appearances in leading international opera houses. Her Schubert Club debut program in 1970 included Cleopatra’s exquisite aria “V’adoro pupille”. Here she sings it in a live recording from 1968 in Buenos Aires:

Sills’s seemingly effortless agility and accuracy in coloratura were on full display in “O luce di quest’anima” from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix. Here she sings the aria on Ed Sullivan’s TV show in 1969:

This is her final encore at City Opera in 1980, a Portuguese folksong learned from her teacher when she was ten, with which Sills ended every recital:

And a bonus for “Bubbles” fans: eight-year-old Beverly singing in the short film Uncle Sol Solves It:

Artist note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archives:

Promotional poster for Sills’ 1972 performance at the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium

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Sills featured on the cover page of Pioneer Press’ Lively Arts section on October 15, 1972

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Handbill for Sills’ 1972 performance for Schubert Club

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A signed program from Sills’ 1972 performance

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Review in the Minneapolis Star of Sills’ 1972 performance

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Various local reviews of Sills’ 1972 concert

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Photo of Sills in a local newspaper prior to her 1975 concert

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Program from Sills’ 1975 performance

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Review in the Pioneer Press of Sills’ 1975 performance

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Local newspaper announcement of Sills’ 1979 concert

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Artist Archive