NEW YORK (AP) – Beverly Sills resigned Tuesday as chairman of the Metropolitan Opera due to personal reasons.

“It’s the right time to leave and concentrate on my family,” Sills said in a statement.

Sills, a Brooklyn-born opera diva, sang for international audiences for more than three decades before retiring from the stage in 1980 at the age of 51.

She then launched a new career as an executive and leader of New York’s performing arts community, becoming in 1994 the first woman and the first former artist to chair the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

After leading Lincoln Center through eight boom years and launching a redevelopment project, she retired in 2002, only to emerge six months later to head the Metropolitan Opera.

Sills has been in poor health recently. Her resignation is effective immediately, Opera president William Morris said.

Joseph Volpe, the opera company’s general manager, called Sills’ contribution “considerable.”

“I know that the strength of her spirit and her unfailing sense of humor even when things get rough will help her through the present difficulties,” he said in a statement.



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