Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, June 29, 2007

Beverly Sills - gravely ill

My freshman year in college I lived in a 'College House' at the University of Pennsylvania called Van Pelt (I think it has been renamed since then).

Anyway, one of its unique things was that it has a special guest resident a week or two a year, someone famous from the arts. My freshman year it was Beverly Sills, the famous opera singer. I sat next to her one night at dinner, and heard her give an impromptu performance in the lounge next to the piano.

Honestly, I was not a opera fan then, and didn't know who she was other than that she was a famous opera singer. As I learned to appreciate it later on, I was honored, in hindsight, to have met her.

Here is the AP article about her illness and impending death
Editor's note: An earlier headline gave incorrect information about opera singer Beverly Sills. She is gravely ill.

NEW YORK — Beverly Sills, the opera diva who won over fans worldwide with her sparkling voice and charming personality and later became a powerhouse in the New York arts world, is gravely ill with cancer, the Associated Press has learned.

Sills, 78, was chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera until she resigned two years ago, citing health and family reasons. She remains the Met’s chairwoman emerita.

The Met would neither confirm nor deny news of her illness, but people close to the situation said Sills was at a Manhattan hospital, with her daughter at her side.

In an e-mail this week to members of its board, the Met said Sills was “gravely ill.” One person said she was suffering from lung cancer. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to announce news of her health.

Sills, a nonsmoker, underwent successful cancer surgery in 1974.

Born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, the coloratura soprano made her opera debut in 1947 in Philadelphia in a bit role in Bizet’s “Carmen.” She became a star with the New York City Opera, where she first performed in 1955 in Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Die Fledermaus.” She was acclaimed for performances in such operas as Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” Massenet’s “Manon,” Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” and the roles of three Tudor queens in works by Gaetano Donizetti.

She didn’t appear at the Met until 1975, shortly before her retirement from singing — which made it surprising when the Met asked her to sit on its board in 2002.

Beyond the music world, Sills gained fans worldwide with a personality that matched her childhood nickname — Bubbles. The relaxed, red-haired diva appeared frequently on “The Tonight Show,” “The Muppet Show” and singing with her friend Carol Burnett. As recently as last season, she hosted some of the Met’s new high definition theater broadcasts.

Sills retired from the stage in 1980 at 51 and began a career leading New York’s performing arts community as general director of City Opera. She became chairwoman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1994.