Wolf Trap Festival 1974
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 series launched its historic run with a real coup: Beverly Sills in her first complete operatic telecast as the boisterous Marie ("Lucille Ball with high notes," to quote Sills herself) in Donizetti's lively comic opera The Daughters of the Regiment. The New York Times raved, "At the center, of course, is Miss Sills, in supremely confident form, vocally and histrionically...[Her] zest and vivacity prove infectious with the other performers and the entire audience." The overwhelming success of the Wolf Trap series helped raise Sills to the status of TV mega-star, and proved to public television stations throughout the country that audiences were ready for and hungry for the complete, undiluted operatic experience.