Remembering Beverly Sills with my favorite recording (today) of the soprano
Beverly Sills would have -- should have -- turned 81 today, May 25. She died, much too soon, three years ago.
For me, the distinctive, silvery sound of Sills exerts an immediate pull, just as the earthier tone of Callas does. And when Sills is at her interpretive best, I find myself totally won over.
Some days, if asked to choose my favorite performance by the singer, I'd immediately say Marietta's Lied from "Die tote stadt." But today, I'd have to pick "Im chambre separee" from the 1898 operetta "Der Opernball" by Heuberger --a love song about leaving the bright night life behind to share a cozy corner where secrets of love can be whispered.
During a phone interview with the soprano not long before she died, I mentioned my fondness for her interpretation of this aria and she sounded genuinely pleased, saying that it was one of her favorites as well. She talked about how she and conductor Julius Rudel had decided at the recording session that they wanted to really take their time with the music -- and, boy, do they ever! I just don't think this gentle aria could be more beautifully and beguilingly sung. It's a recording that sums up the magic of Beverly Sills perfectly.