I was aware of Beverly Sills before I knew anything about opera. As a child I watched her on my family’s favorite TV program, The Carol Burnett Show. Occasionally I’d see her on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the sound kept low on the set in my room to avoid disturbing my parents.
When I was a kid growing up in The Bronx, everything on TV might as well have been from another planet. The suburban home of The Brady Bunch and the Ponderosa homestead on Bonanza were both equally foreign.
But Beverly Sills looked and acted as if she could have been the mom of one of my classmates. She had a common touch that’s sadly lacking in today’s classical music scene, where every rising artist appears to be a prodigy from privileged circumstances.
An artist such as Beverly Sills made you feel that beauty and culture were within the reach of everyday people, and that you could attain them without forgetting who you were and where you came from.
Certainly a rare artist, and one who will be missed.