Music: Queenly Charisma

"As soon as I walk into the theater, I'm somebody else," says Soprano Beverly Sills. I'm Manon, or Lucia or whoever it happens to be. Even if, God forbid, I'm not getting the message to the audience, I'm getting the message."

Last week at the New York City Opera, Sills' somebody else was Mary Queen of Scots in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda—and everybody got the message. In a career distinguished by a quest for new music and new roles, Maria is one of her best finds yet. Sills shows a thoroughgoing grasp of both the...

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