In the summer of 1974, The Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association began videotaping a number of live operatic and concert performances at the Filene Center in Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia, for telecast in an innovative new series entitled 'In Performance at Wolf Trap'. The series met with overwhelming success, and set the stage for the many live performance telecasts which have since followed.
In 1975, 'In Performance at Wold Trap' presented Beverly Sills in perhaps her most acclaimed portrayal, that of Queen Elizabeth I in the Donizetti rarity Roberto Devereux. When Miss Sills first sang the role at the New York City Opera in 1970, Winthrop Sargeant wrote in the New Yorker, "She was Elizabeth, from the extreme pallor of her makeup to the royal sweep of her train. It was a characterisation that I shall never forget. The combination of skills she brought to her role made this a historic moment".
Daniel Webster wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Miss Sills sang the towering role with such authority and portrayed Queen Elizabeth with such fervour that the opera, unstaged (in New York) for more than 125 years, now is one of the theatrical events of the year".