Thursday, January 19, 2017

Roberta Peters (1930-2017)

Soprano Roberta Peters, a mainstay of the Metropolitan Opera from the early 1950s into the mid-’80s, as well as a familiar television and film presence, has died at 86.

Peters vaulted into stardom on Nov. 17, 1950, when she was called into the Met as a last-minute substitute in the role of Zerlina in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” Her performance, with little or no rehearsal, won rave reviews. She went on to give more than 500 performances at the Met, specializing in coloratura roles such as Susanna in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”

She was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1998.

Although the Met was the principal stage of the New York-born Peters, she also sang at Covent Garden in London, the Vienna State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and other major houses in the US and Europe.

After leaving the Met in 1985, Peters sang in recital, operetta and musicals.

For many Americans, her most famous role may have been in a TV commercial for American Express, “singing out ‘Tax-eee!’ in a descending major third, from G to E flat,” Margalit Fox writes in an obituary for The New York Times: