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Roberta Peters
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    (May 4, 1930-January 18, 2017)
    Born in The Bronx, New York
    Birth name was Roberta Peterman
    Coloratura soprano
    Performed with the Metropolitan Opera (1950-85)
    Notable roles included the Queen of the Night in ‘The Magic Flute,’ Susanna in ‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ Despina in ‘Cosi Fan Tutte,’ Rosina in ‘The Barber of Seville,’ Sophie in ‘Der Rosenkavalier,’ Adele in ‘Die Fledermaus,’ Lucia in ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ and Gilda in ‘Rigoletto’
    Received the National Medal of the Arts (1998)
    She left school at age thirteen to study voice full time.
    Her training included balancing a bag of gravel on her head to improve her posture and having Joseph Pilates (creator of the physical education regime bearing his name) stand on her stomach to strengthen her diaphragm.
    She was married briefly to baritone Robert Merrill (1952), later conceding she had been in love with the voice rather than the man.
    She appeared in an American Express ‘Do You Know Me?’ commercial.
    She made her Metropolitan Opera debut (which was also her debut as a professional singer) earlier than planned when she was asked, on five hours’ notice, to replace ailing Nadine Conner as Zerlina in ‘Don Giovanni’ (November 17, 1950).
    She recalled, ‘That could be like a Cinderella story except that I was prepared.’
    She appeared 65 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, more than any other opera singer.
    Her second marriage, to Bertram Fields, lasted 55 years until his death.

Credit: C. Fishel

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