Opera star Beverly Sills gravely ill with cancer

NEW YORK Fri Jun 29, 2007 5:14pm EDT

1 of 2. Opera singer Beverly Sills in her Metropolitan Opera debut as Pamira in Rossini's 'Siege of Corinth' is seen in this April 1975 publicity photograph. World-renowned soprano Sills, who went from stardom on the opera stage to become chairwoman of two great U.S. opera companies, is critically ill with cancer, her manager said on June 29, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/James Heffernan/Metropolitan Opera/Handout

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World-renowned soprano Beverly Sills, who went from stardom on the opera stage to become chairwoman of two great U.S. opera companies, is critically ill with cancer, her manager said on Thursday.

"It's grave. This whole matter of this discovery of cancer has been just about four weeks now. Up until that she had no idea," manager Edgar Vincent said. He did not release details on the nature of her cancer.

Sills was in a New York hospital for a broken rib suffered from a fall. Otherwise she would be home, Vincent said.

The 78-year-old home-grown American diva resigned as chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera in 2005, an opera house at which she did not make her official debut until 1975, five years before she retired from the stage.

Prior to her Met chairwoman job, she was chairwoman of the New York City Opera, where she had achieved stardom as a singer and became the most famous American opera singer.

Nicknamed "Bubbles" and known for her red hair as well as her gifted coloratura soprano voice, she was famed for performances in such productions as "The Magic Flute" and "Lucia di Lammermoor."

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