Notable People

Beverly Sills - Opera Singer

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Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills

Beverly Sills, considered to be one of the best-known opera singers of the 1960s and 1970s, was called “America’s Queen of Opera” by Time Magazine and known as “Bubbles” to her fans during a singing career of more than four decades. She was renowned for her roles in operas around the world and more popular with the American public than any opera singer since Enrico Caruso, even among people who never set foot in an opera house.

Beverly married Peter Bulkley Greenough, a grandchild of Liberty and Delia Holden, on November 17, 1956. Greenough and Sills had two children: Meredith Holden “Muffy” who was born on August 4, 1959, virtually deaf and suffered from multiple sclerosis.  A son, Peter, Jr., Bucky, born in 1961, was deaf, autistic, intellectually disabled, and epileptic. Beverly restricted her schedule so she could care for her children.

While living in Bratenahl in the late 1950s, Sills appeared in four productions in the Musicarnival series, including the title roles in Bizet’s “Carmen” and Puccini’s “Tosca.”

In 1960, Greenough and Sills moved to Milton, Massachusetts, where he worked for the Boston Herald and later the Boston Globe. Beverly sang for the Opera Company of Boston, the first of many roles.

After retiring in 1980 at age 51, Beverly began a new life as an executive and leader of New York’s performing arts community. First, she became the general director of the New York City Opera. In 1994, Sills became chairwoman of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She was the first woman and first former artist in that position.

Sills became general manager of the New York City Opera in 1980. Subsequently, in 1994, she became Chairman of Lincoln Center and, in 2002, of the Metropolitan Opera. She used her celebrity status to further charity work for the prevention and treatment of congenital disabilities. In 1981, Barnard College awarded her its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction. She was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Although Beverly overcame cancer in 1974, she died of lung cancer in New York City on July 2, 2007. She left the bulk of her estate for the care of her disabled adult children.