Saturday, July 13, 2013

Beverly Sills Lives On In Rare Recordings Released From Ohio

Beverly Sills as Tosca (Photo: Cleveland Public Library)
"DoeHeads – those die-hard fans of Douglas Moore’s opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe – have new reason to rejoice. Among the eight live recordings of operas performed at Musicarnival in Warrensville Heights in the 1950s and 1960s soon to be available to the public is a 1958 production of Baby Doe starring soprano Beverly Sills in one of her signature roles. There’s a lot more here than Moore, who served as director of music at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the 1920s and conducted the Cleveland Orchestra in the premiere of his Four Museum Pieces in 1923. Sills, who lived in Cleveland in the late 1950s, appears in four other productions in the Musicarnival series, including the title roles in two great potboilers – Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Tosca – she performed only in John L. Price’s tent theater-in-the-round. By the end of the year, compact discs of the opera productions are expected to begin arriving at the John L. Price Jr. Musicarnival Archives at the Cleveland Public Library, which last year started to receive recordings of more than 90 musicals and operettas that Musicarnival founder and producer Price presented in Warrensville Heights and West Palm Beach, Florida, from 1954 to 1965. The opera performances, all in English, also will be available for listening purposes at Goodspeed Musicals’ Scherer Library of Musical Theater in East Haddam, Connecticut. Goodspeed, a collaborator in the Musicarnival project with Cleveland’s Musical Theater Project, houses one of the country’s largest collections of musical-theater audio collections. The Musicarnival opera series includes two productions of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus – one from 1955 (starring Sills, months before she made her triumphant New York City Opera debut in the same work) and another from 1961 (starring Leyna Gabriele, who created the role of Baby Doe at the opera’s world premiere at Colorado’s Central City Opera in 1956)." [Source]