Peters, Roberta

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PETERS, ROBERTA (1930– ), U.S. opera singer, recitalist, and master teacher. Peters was born in New York City, the daughter of Ruth (Hirsch), a milliner, and Sol Peterman, a shoe salesman. She began performing at 20 at the Metropolitan Opera, where she achieved the longest tenure of any soprano in the opera house's history, giving more than 500 performances in over 20 roles. Peters, who performed to great acclaim throughout the world, was known for a broad and varied repertoire which ranged from opera to lieder, and included both art and folk songs. Her famous roles included the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Rosina in his The Barber of Seville, and Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto. She was heard frequently on the Voice of Firestone radio broadcasts and appeared for a record 65 times on television's The Ed Sullivan Show. Caught in Israel during the Six-Day War, she and her colleague Richard *Tucker performed for soldiers.

Peters, who was involved in many philanthropic efforts for general and Jewish causes, established a scholarship fund at Hebrew University. After a brief marriage to fellow opera star Richard Merrill in 1952, Peters married real estate investor Bertram Fields in 1955. Peters, who published a memoir, Debut at the Met (1967), with Louis Biancolli, received numerous awards and honorary degrees. In 1991, she received a presidential appointment to a five-year term on the National Council of the Arts.


M.B. Edelman, "Roberta Peters," in: P.E. Hyman and D.D. Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America, vol. 2 (1997), 1046–48.

[Judith R. Baskin (2nd ed.)]

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