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Roberta Peters (1930 - 2017)

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Roberta Peters (1930 - 2017)

Roberta Peters, the coloratura soprano opera star and 35-year veteran of New York City's Metropolitan Opera Company, died Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at her home in Rye, New York, according to The New York Times. She was 86.

The cause of death was Parkinson’s disease, her son Bruce Fields told The New York Times.

Peters, also known as the American Nightingale, sang over 500 performances during her storied career. Her professional debut Nov. 17, 1950, proved memorable when she was asked to sub in for Nadine Conner, who had fallen ill. With no rehearsal at all, she stepped onto the stage at the Met, and a star was born. Peters sang as Zerlina - a notoriously difficult role - in "Don Giovanni."

Cue Magazine wrote of Roberta Peters in 1960, “As a coloratura, she has no peer.” Peters’ other famous roles included the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” and Gilda in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”


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Peters also performed many times at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and at the San Francisco Opera, among many others.

She was born Roberta Peterman May 4, 1930, in the Bronx, New York. She started her music lessons at age 13 with voice teacher William Hermann.

Her success carried over to television. She appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” a record 65 times. She also made appearances on the “Tonight Show.”

Known for taking great care of her voice, she continued to sing in recital until well into her 70s.

Her second husband, Bertram Fields, died in 2010. She is survived by her two sons and four grandchildren.

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