Wolf Trap Festival 1976
Before live opera telecasts became regular television events, the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association (WETA) embarked on an ambitious project. In the summer of 1974, WETA began videotaping live operatic and concert performances at the Filene Center Auditorium in Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia, for broadcast in a series entitled In Performance at Wolf Trap. The overwhelming success of the series proved to public television stations throughout the country that audiences were eager for this kind of programming.
In 1976, In Performance at Wolf Trap presented Beverly Sills in one of her most celebrated portrayals, that of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. Just months earlier, Sills had performed the role at the Metropolitan Opera to great acclaim. Harriet Johnson of the New York Post reported that Sills was "in top form and singing with plentitude and warmth...the range of color was worth its weight in nuance." And the esteemed critic Leighton Kerner observed, "Sills was once again the great singing actress...of all the nearly 200 Traviatas I've heard, not one until this brought tears."