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WESTSIDER BEVERLY SILLS
WESTSIDER BEVERLY SILLS
Opera superstar

9-30-78

Probably no opera singer since Caruso has made so great an impact on the American public as Beverly Sills. Even today, the mention of her name can automatically sell out a concert hall anywhere in the U.S. She has become bigger than her art, for while a few younger singers can reach the notes more easily, Sills generates a certain intense excitement into all her roles that makes every show she appears in not just an opera, but an event.

Her star vehicle this fall is an early 19th-century opera, Il Turco In Italia (The Turk in Italy), written by Gioacchino Rossini prior to his masterpiece, The Barber of Seville.

Il Turco, presented by the New York City Opera for eight performances in September through November, is a subtle comedy about a flirtatious, Sophia Loren-type character (Sills) with a jealous husband. The audience will miss none of the Italian humor because this production of Il Turco is in English.

"I love to do English translations," said Miss Sills last week in a telephone interview. "I believe the whole art of opera is based on communication. I don't see how people can appreciate a comedy in a language that four fifths of the audience doesn't understand. There's only snobbery about foreign languages in this country — not in Europe. In America, an opera is like a museum piece. But I think the great classics like Boheme and Traviata don't need to be translated because everyone knows what they're about."

She performs regularly with the New York City Opera even though the State Theatre-based company is able to pay only a tiny fraction of what singers receive at other great opera houses around the world. "I made my career with them," she explained. "I sing there because of loyalty, and because I love to." She has already made plans to retire from singing in 1980 and to become codirector of the New York City Opera with Julius Rudel, the present director.

Right now she is busy studying three other roles. On December 7 she will headline the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, which will run until January 20. In March she will star in a world premiere for the New York City Opera, Miss Haversham's Fire, based on the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. In June she will go to San Diego to perform in yet another world-premiere opera, Juana La Loca by Gian Carlo Menotti.

Last season, Beverly hosted a popular television program called Lifestyles. This year, she said, "I'm doing something much bigger, as a result of that show's success. Unfortunately, I ............
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