Monday, July 02, 2007
Comfort and solace to the family of Beverly Sills and all who adored her, who will feel lonely tonight, upon reading the news, though she never knew them. They've lost a friend, as surely as...
The first opera set I ever owned, given to me by my father (who thinks he recalls hearing her in Dallas, when he was young) was her Traviata. I don't have it anymore--it got scratched, and my tastes changed--and change still: I'd love to hear it again, though she was not among my most cherished. She was a vibrant public face of opera, this I know, and listening now to a memorial track or two, I certainly value the vitality of her singing. In high school I listened to "So anch'io la virtu magica" on warped cassettes; she was my introduction, I think to Olympia's air. The public library had her Manon on LP. In some indirect ways, she's prominent in my love of the art, though not lately someone I doted on. (I say this not to disparage, least of all now, but so as to avoid ostentation in telling you what I've lost--you may be the more bereft. When my favorites go, you can let me do the wailing. But she's too important to let her passing go without comment.)
One thing I always loved: somewhere or other I taped the old, scratchy broadcast she did of the original-key Zerbinetta scene. She leaves out a note or two but as for the rest, it's unadulterated delight. I said to a friend that her singing in it was "fearless." He said that was the right word. I think it was.
I have the impression, rightly or not, she was someone we'd like to have known, not just for her singing.
Maybe you can listen to a little of your favorite performance if you've just read the news, and remember her fondly, even if you just loved her records. The Puritani scene has just come on, and it's certainly a fine thing.