Monday, July 09, 2007

Belated Sills Tribute

As a relative latecomer, I don't really have any of those primordial childhood memories of her which so many seem to share. For my part, she's always embodied something very specific about New York and New York culture's peculiar place on the American continent and in the national imagination, and I wonder whether its really understood amidst the "people's diva" epitaphs thrust into our obsession with 'elitist' culture.

Because it's not so much that she 'brought opera to the people', but rather that she carried the banner of that special mid-century moment when people understood and celebrated the possibilities of a decidedly American national artistic culture. When the country and New York City, notwithstanding its European deviance, could carry out a love affair that had nothing to do with terrible tragedy. It was a remarkable achievement in American democracy and national cohesion--and Sills, an extraordinary artist, unabashedly American, unabashedly New York, was undoubtedly one of its finest spokespeople.

Anyhow. Here are some tracks--nothing too special, just two from her Roberto Deveraux which I have a great affection for, and that Traviata Maury wanted to hear again. Wow. That Traviata is a heartbreaker.








1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too am a relative latecomer to opera, and so Ms. Sills did not have as much of a pivotal role in my operatic upbringing. Nonetheless, as a New Yorker who tried to get to a MET performance whenever I could the past 10 years, I cannot tell you how many times I saw her at Lincoln Center and the opera house. It was like seeing American operatic royalty. I love the Traviata and 3 Queens recordings. And the scene with the Muppets on You Tube is priceless.