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Classical Notes

Beverly Sills -- More Memories

Posted at 4:57 PM on July 3, 2007 by Rex Levang

I was reading the diaries of Leo Lerman, New York journalist, man about town and aesthete extraordinaire, and came across this passage purely by chance:

April 8, 1975: Beverly's Metropolitan debut [in Rossini's "Siege of Corinth"] -- the mid-act tidal ovation was the most unusual ovation I have ever heard in any theater . . . The ovation for Beverly, mid-second act, after she sang most beautifully, reclining, and, after the third part of the aria, stood with back to the audience--a slender, blue-cloaked, bright-haired figure--quite mortal. This ovation was unique, not for much for the length as the shape. Its form was that of the ocean's waves before, during, and after a violent storm. It swept down and out, down and out. It was tremendous in its intensity; it was a whisper. It was the reward of virtue, goodness, survival.

--Leo Lerman, "The Grand Surprise"