We’re expanding our Encyclopedia of Jewish Women and we need your help! Know an extraordinary Jewish woman whose story should be told? Nominate her to be included!
Close [x]

Show [+]


You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Beverly Sills

Beverly Sills may not have performed at the Metropolitan Opera House until age forty-five, but her impact on the opera world as both a singer and as the first female director of the New York City Opera Company (NYCO) was beyond measure. Singing on children’s radio shows as early as age four, Sills had memorized Italian arias by seven and entertained audiences in the Catskills at sixteen. In 1955, she joined the NYCO and became known for her masterful performance of Cleopatra in Handel’s Julius Caesar, as well as the three queens in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda, and Anna Bolena. In 1979, she became the first woman and the first singer to manage the NYCO, eliminating the company’s five million dollar deficit and making opera more accessible through her innovations of English supertitles and sign language translators as well as her support of modern American opera composers. In 1994, she became chair of the Lincoln Center board, once again the first woman and first singer to hold the position. The mother of two children with disabilities, Sills served as national chair of the March of Dimes and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, among other organizations.

More on: Radio, Opera, Philanthropy
Beverly Sills
Full image

Beverly Sills, American opera singer.

Photograph by Carl Van Vechten.

Date of Birth
May 25, 1929
Place of Birth
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death
July 2, 2007

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Beverly Sills." (Viewed on March 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/sills-beverly>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs