Soprano Beverly Sills, whose ebullient personality and brilliant singing voice not only made her a star but helped demystify opera in America, died Monday night in her Manhattan home from inoperable lung cancer, the New York Times reports. She was 78. Sills spent much of her singing career with the New York City Opera, and later chaired Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
Sills was Brooklyn-born and American-trained. She overcame modest beginnings, personal tragedy (two severely handicapped children) and mixed early reviews (she was accepted at City Operat after eight unsuccessful auditions) to triumph in the bel canto Italian repertory. Sills was known for her adeptness with vocal embellishments and for helping to revive operas that hadn't been performed in years.