Music: Champagne Time for Beverly Sills

City Opera's ex-diva restores it to vitality and stability

Before Puccini's La Rondine opened at the New York City Opera this season, all the signs pointed to a disaster. The work was little known, and had been dismissed by earlier generations as inconsequential. The intended conductor, C. William Harwood, died unexpectedly last April at the age of 36, and the lead soprano withdrew. During the dress rehearsal, Tenor Barry McCauley objected to Conductor Allesandro Siciliani's tempos and stormed off, while Siciliani threatened to take the next plane back to Italy. Peace was restored, but...

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