A Window on Sills

May 26, 2010

The wonderful Music Research Division of the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center (where I’m spending a great portion of my time lately) has a very good display in honor of Beverly Sills, whose birthday came yesterday. It consists of working piano scores for some of her roles. They are of course worn, much marked-up, and remarkably evocative.

Here is a view of her score for Handel’s Giulio Cesare, her performance in which first made her a household word. She has added a staff for her elaborate ornaments and included dynamic and articulation markings:

I was particularly interested in seeing her score for her celebrated appearances as Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, a memorable portrayal that I’m happy to say I saw several times. In addition to the kinds of musical markings that we see in the Handel, she here includes notes for stage movements as well:

And here is her bookplate:

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