Cover for GUY: The Magic of Beverly Sills. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

The Magic of Beverly Sills

How an alchemy of art, magnetism, community, and emotion produced an American icon

With her superb coloratura soprano, passion for the world of opera, and down-to-earth personality, Beverly Sills made high art accessible to millions from the time of her meteoric rise to stardom in 1966 until her death in 2007. An unlikely pop culture phenomenon, Sills was equally at ease on talk shows, on the stage, and in the role of arts advocate and administrator.

Merging archival research with her own love of Sills's music, Nancy Guy examines the singer-actress's artistry alongside the ineffable aspects of performance that earned Sills a passionate fandom. Guy mines the memories of colleagues, critics, and aficionados to recover something of the spell Sills wove for people on both sides of the footlights during the hot moments of onstage performance. At the same time, she analyzes essential questions raised by Sills's art and celebrity. How did Sills challenge the divide between elite and mass culture and build a fan base that crossed generations and socio-economic lines? Above all, how did Sills capture the unnameable magic that joins the members of an audience to a performer--and to one-another?

Intimate and revealing, The Magic of Beverly Sills explores the alchemy of art, magnetism, community, and emotion that produced an American icon.


"What stays with one most about Guy's study is the passion behind it, and the way it evokes a time in which an opera could be that relevant to so many."--Opera News

"Guy's study goes well beyond the operatic stage or record studio to consider her subject's broad appeal and popularity."--ARSC Journal

"Guy's refreshing book offers a timely contrast between the cultural backdrop of the 20th century and that of the present. . . . This is a captivating work on Sill's unique, spellbinding artistry. Highly recommended."--Choice

“Nancy Guy’s The Magic of Beverly Sills couldn’t be more timely. In an era when opera needs stars, the author has given us a fascinating, comprehensive look at the elusive magic of an artist who enchanted not only opera devotees, but the entire nation."--Renée Fleming

"Beverly Sills came along at the perfect moment, quenching the public's thirst for a bona fide STAR. Now this book comes along at the perfect moment to quench this generation's thirst for insight into what made her shine so radiantly."--Joyce DiDonato

"Frequently, biographies of opera singers are basically gushing with enthusiasm and overstated personal opinions. This book avoids those pitfalls and adds important scholarly information about how to think about an opera singer, her roles, and her fans."--Naomi André, coeditor of Blackness in Opera

"Guy's elegant biography gets to the heart of Sills's magnetic stage presence and parses the performer's power to mesmerize audiences with ineffable and poignant cultural magic."--Jill Dolan, author of The Feminist Spectator in Action: Feminist Criticism for the Stage and Screen

"An exhaustively researched, thoughtful, well-written treatment of one of the most important and beloved musicians the U.S. has ever produced."--Timothy D. Taylor, author of The Sounds of Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture

Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the Henry and Edna Binkele Classical Music Fund.


Nancy Guy is a professor of music at University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/49hfs8ye9780252039737.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
The Man That Got Away - Cover
The Man That Got Away

The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen

Walter Rimler

Banjo Roots and Branches - Cover
Banjo Roots and Branches

Edited by Robert B. Winans

Black Music Research Journal - Cover
Black Music Research Journal

Edited by Horace Maxile, Jr.

American Music - Cover
American Music

Edited by Neil Lerner

Sounds of the New Deal - Cover
Sounds of the New Deal

The Federal Music Project in the West

Peter Gough

Beyond Bach - Cover
Beyond Bach

Music and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century

Andrew Talle

Just One of the Boys - Cover
Just One of the Boys

Female-to-Male Cross-Dressing on the American Variety Stage

Gillian M. Rodger

Los Romeros - Cover
Los Romeros

Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar

Walter Aaron Clark

Black Opera - Cover
Black Opera

History, Power, Engagement

Naomi André

Music and the Moving Image - Cover
Music and the Moving Image

Edited by Gillian B. Anderson & Ronald H. Sadoff

The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music - Cover
The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music

Composers, Consumers, Communities

Marie Sumner Lott

Bluegrass Generation - Cover
Bluegrass Generation

A Memoir

Neil V. Rosenberg