Beverly Sills, the former opera great who has led Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for eight years, announced yesterday (April 1) that she is resigning at the end of the month. "I feel privilege

Beverly Sills, the former opera great who has led Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for eight years, announced yesterday (April 1) that she is resigning at the end of the month. "I feel privileged to have served this great performing arts center, and very happy to have, hopefully, made a difference in the city where I was born and love so much," Sills said in a statement. "This comes, as always, with love to you and a warm hug."

Sills, who turns 73 next month, has for some time expressed a desire to retire from the volunteer post as chair of the world's largest performing arts center. During her tenure, she helped develop a redevelopment project estimated to cost about $1 billion. The project has been a source of some turmoil for Lincoln Center, with competing arts groups arguing over its size and scope.

Sills had indicated that she would leave after the board found a successor to Gordon Davis, who abruptly resigned as Lincoln Center's president last fall after less than a year in office. Last month, the board of directors approved his successor, Reynold Levy, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School who has led several high-profile nonprofit organizations.

"Having been involved with the selection of Reynold Levy as our new president, I feel confident that Lincoln Center is in excellent hands and I feel my departure can finally become a reality," Sills said in her resignation letter to the board. She said she would stay on until May 1 or until her successor is found, to ensure a smooth transition.

Levy said Sills "has had an enormous impact on Lincoln Center for well over 40 years. She's played a number of roles, literally and figuratively, on the campus. All of us at Lincoln Center are very hopeful that she will continue to play a role in some way, although not as chair."

Sills' departure would not delay the redevelopment project, Levy said. "I think people will rally around and intensify their efforts to complete the planning for this redevelopment," he said. Asked about Sills' legacy, Levy said: "There's no question Beverly Sills leaves Lincoln Center and its constituents stronger than when she found them."

Sills came to Lincoln Center in 1994 after helping to revitalize the New York City Opera, the company for which the soprano sang for decades. As its general manager, a post she took in 1980, she was credited with putting the company in the black and raising its profile.


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