Beverly Sills (May 25, 1929 -- July 2, 2007) was an American operatic soprano whose peak career was between the 1950s and 1970s. In her prime she was the only real rival to Joan Sutherland as the leading bel canto stylist. Although she sang a repertoire from Handel and Mozart to Puccini, Massenet and Verdi, she was known for her performances in coloratura soprano roles in live opera and recordings. Sills was largely associated with the operas of Donizetti, of which she performed and recorded many roles. Her signature roles include the title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Massenet's Manon, Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment, the three heroines in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, and most notably Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux. Sills's voice has been described at the same time "rich, supple", "silvery", "precise, a little light", "multicolored", "robust and enveloping", with "a cutting edge that can slice through the largest orchestra and chorus," soaring easily above high C. Her technique and musicianship are very praised. Conductor Thomas Schippers said in a 1971 interview with Time that she had "the fastest voice alive." The New York Times writes that "she could dispatch coloratura roulades and embellishments, capped with radiant high D's and E-flats, with seemingly effortless agility. She sang with scrupulous musicianship, rhythmic incisiveness and a vivid sense of text." Soprano Leontyne Price was "flabbergasted at how many millions of things she can do with a written scale." Her vocal range, in performance, extended from F3 to F6, and she said she could sometimes hit a G6 in warm up...
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