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Famous Like Me > Singer > P > Roberta Peters

Profile of Roberta Peters on Famous Like Me

Name: Roberta Peters  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 4th May 1930
Place of Birth: New York, New York, USA
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Roberta Peters (born on May 4, 1930) is an American soprano opera singer.

She was born Roberta Peterman and was the only child of a shoe salesman and a hat maker. She grew up in The Bronx, New York, loving to sing and dreaming of becoming a star. Her parents made great financial sacrifices to prepare her for a career in music. Her grandfather, who was a headwaiter, knew the tenor Jan Peerce, who was a well-known cantor. Her grandfather convinced the famous cantor to listen to his grand-daughter. She was only 13, but Peerce was very impressed and arranged for her to study with William Herman, who had coached many opera stars. Herman made sure she had French, German, and Italian lessons and made her sing scales from a clarinet method. He made sure she did not perform prematurely, but worked with her for six years, finally having her sing for Sol Hurok when she was 19. Hurok arranged for an audition with Sir Rudolph Bing, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Bing had her sing the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute, with its high Fs, seven times, listening from all parts of the hall to make sure she could fill the hall with sound. He scheduled her to sing the role in 1951.

However, on November 17, 1950, she received a 3 AM phone call from Rudolph Bing, asking her if she could sing that night. Nadine Conner, cast as Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni had a mild case of food poisoning and could not perform. Ms. Peters, 20 years old, hired a few weeks earlier on the basis of a single audition, had never sung with a full orchestra, never performed in a full opera production, never even performed on stage, professionally or otherwise, except for her audition. She was not an official understudy, but she knew the role and accepted. The rest, as they say, is history.

Her parents were planning to go to the opera that night in the standing section. When they got home from work, Roberta surprised them with the announcement that they would be watching her perform, from box seats. She and her mother took a cab, but ended up getting on the subway when the cab got stuck in traffic.

Fritz Reiner, the conductor that night, was known for being hard to follow, but he made a point of coming to Roberta's dressing room to encourage her. Her performance was received with great enthusiasm, and her career took off.

Combining a wonderful voice with attractive good looks, she became the darling of America and a great proponent of opera for the masses. She gave more than 500 performances at the Met in 24 roles and appeared in a great number of Voice of Firestone radio broadcasts. She sang for every US president from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton.

She was married to the late opera singer Robert Merrill for less than a year in 1952, and was remarried to Bertram Fields, by whom she had 2 children and to whom she is still married to this day.

She was still giving solo recitals at 70, 50 years after that first auspicious audition. She appeared for a record 65 times on The Ed Sullivan Show.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Roberta Peters