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Roberta Peters

Biography

Born: May 4, 1930  
Roberta Peters is one of the most durable stars of American opera, and one of the most popular coloratura singers.

She was born Roberta Peterman. She began serious voice studies at the age of thirteen. Her teacher was William Pierce Hermann, one of New York's best known vocal coaches, with a reputation for rigorous training, who gave his pupils a secure technical foundation.

Hermann brought her to the attention of impresario Sol
Read more Hurok and tenor Jan Peerce, who immediately urged the Metropolitan Opera Company to take an interest in her. They hired her when she was nineteen. At the time, she had no stage training or experience.

They scheduled her debut for February 1951, the role of The Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. The role requires extreme high notes and a sparkling coloratura technique, but is otherwise undemanding, since the Queen has essentially just her two arias to sing, and is a frequent debut role for promising young coloraturas.

However, the carefully developed plan was laid aside on 17 November 1950, when Nadine Connor was too ill to sing the part of Zerlina, the soubrette role in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Peters was asked, virtually at the last minute, to substitute, and made a sensation.

She immediately became a star and a mainstay of the Met, and one of America's most beloved classical musicians. She remained on the active roster of the Met for more than thirty-five years, the longest tenure of any female singer in the great house's history. She sang over five hundred performances in more than twenty roles.

Peters specialized in sparkling roles best suited to her special vocal quality (which Martin Bernheimer said possessed "considerable charm and flute-like accuracy") -- Gilda, Despina, Norina, Rosina, and Lucia di Lammermoor. When in later career her vocal quality broadened she also took on lyric soprano roles such as Mimi and Violetta.

She did not confine her appearances to the Met. She debuted at Covent Garden in 1951 in Balfe's The Bohemian Girl, conducted by Thomas Beecham, in various opera houses in Germany and Austria (including the Salzburg Festival), in San Francisco and Chicago and in Russia's Bolshoi and Kirov opera houses.

She was also active on television in an age when American television networks had classical music programs and the main variety shows included featured classical artists. She holds the record for highest number (sixty-five) of guest appearances on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show. She made twenty-five appearances on the Voice of Firestone. As such, she was one of the most effective ambassadors of classical music to the general population, assisted by an appealing all-American personality. She also appeared in films, and sang Broadway musical numbers with a good sense of their style.

She was honored as the 1964 Federation of Women's Clubs' Woman of the Year, won the Bolshoi Medal from the Bolshoi Opera of Moscow in 1972, and in 1997 was one of the Jewish Cultural Achievement Awardees, cited for "her talent, her charm, and her commitment to the arts as well as to the Jewish people." She established a Roberta Peters Scholarship Fund at the Hebrew University in Tel Aviv, and has received numerous honorary degrees.

In 1991, President Bush appointed her to the National Council of the Arts, and she has served as member of the Boards of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Carnegie Hall Corporation.

She has given master classes, including a series in the People's Republic of China. In 2000, Peters received the Handel Medallion. The honor, presented to her by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is a tribute to individuals who have enriched New York City's cultural life. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 32 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    On sale! $159.98
    CD: $111.99
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  • 2.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
    CD: $104.99
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  • 3.
    Domingo at the Met [Anniversary Edition]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303160 Release Date: 05/06/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Placido [Tenor Vocals] Domingo,  Allan Glassman,  Paul Plishka,  David [Tenor Vocal] Hamilton  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Yannick Nézet-Séguin,  Giuseppe Patané,  Giuseppe Sinopoli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
    CD: $137.99
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  • 5.
    Mozart 111 [55-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001766872 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Emil Gilels,  Elena Gilels,  Maurizio Pollini  ... 
    Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock,  James Levine,  Herbert von Karajan,  Marc Minkowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 6.
    Donizetti: L'elisir D'amore / Schippers, Bergonzi, Corena, Peters, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 190991 Release Date: 01/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Frank Guarrera,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Roberta Peters,  Fernando Corena  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 7.
    Offenbach: Les Contes D’hoffmann / Monteux, Stevens, Tucker, Peters
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7961902 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Martial Singher,  Richard Tucker,  Lucine Amara,  Risë Stevens  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $18.99
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  • 8.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Cleva, Peters,  Merrill, Tucker, Clements
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 791005 Release Date: 08/16/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Robert Merrill,  Roberta Peters,  Richard Tucker,  Mignon Dunn  ... 
    Conductor:  Fausto Cleva
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    Verdi: Un Ballo In Maschera / Mitropoulos, Milanov, Peters, Anderson,  Peerce
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 791002 Release Date: 08/16/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Robert Merrill,  Roberta Peters,  Marian Anderson,  Zinka Milanov  ... 
    Conductor:  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 10.
    Jussi Bjorling - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 774892 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Charles Gounod,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Emil Markow,  Frederick Schauwecker  ... 
    Conductor:  Renato Cellini,  Nils Grevillius,  Jonel Perlea,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Orchestra  ... 
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  • 11.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Leinsdorf, Metropolitan Opera
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 85310 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Mildred Miller,  Lucine Amara,  Kim Borg,  Cesare Siepi  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $23.99
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  • 12.
    Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro / Tozzi, Peters, Della Casa, Leinsdorf
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 444602 Release Date: 02/24/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Anny Felbermayer,  George London,  Gabor Carelli,  Giorgio Tozzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $36.98
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  • 13.
    Gluck: Orfeo Ed Euridice / Monteux, Stevens, Della Casa
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 106 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Risë Stevens,  Lisa Della Casa,  Roberta Peters
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
    On sale! $22.98
    CD: $19.99
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  • 14.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Kertesz, Berry, Lorengar, Kmentt, Peters, Kreppel
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4520 Release Date: 06/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Roberta Peters,  Waldemar Kmentt,  Walter Kreppel,  Renate Holm  ... 
    Conductor:  István Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
    On sale! $39.95
    DVD: $37.99
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  • 15.
    The Voices Of Living Stereo Vol 2 / Lanza, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 68167 Release Date: 03/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Franz Schubert,  Gustav Mahler,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Franz Rupp,  Marian Anderson,  Richard Lewis  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Robert Russell Bennett,  Fritz Reiner,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 16.
    Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala (1983)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001326309 Release Date: 09/15/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Grace Bumbry,  Renato Bruson,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Montserrat Caballé  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 17.
    Classical Bytes - Mozart
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000599302 Release Date: 03/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach,  Géza Anda,  Roberta Peters,  Michael Collins  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Géza Anda,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung  ... 
    CD not available
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    MP3:  $9.99 Add MP3 to Cart

  • 18.
    Voice Of Firestone - Great Sopranos / Steber, Sutherland, Price, Et Al
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2442 Release Date: 11/16/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Oscar Straus,  Victor Herbert,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Eleanor Steber,  Jeanette MacDonald,  Patrice Munsel,  Roberta Peters  ... 
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 19.
    Producers' Showcase - Festival Of Music Volume 1
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4244 Release Date: 09/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Various,  Carl Maria von Weber  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Jussi Björling,  Risë Stevens,  Marian Anderson  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Rudolf
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Showcase Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $39.95
    DVD: $37.99
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  • 20.
    The Voice Of Romance / Bartoli, Bergonzi, Carreras, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 472630 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Eldo Di Lazzaro,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Susanne Marsee,  Beverly Sills  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan,  Henry Mancini,  Leone Magiera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mancini Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 21.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Cleva, Warren, Peters, Tucker, Tozzi
    Label: Grand Tier   Catalog: 4995 Release Date: 07/02/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Roberta Peters,  Leonard Warren,  Giorgio Tozzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Fausto Cleva
    On sale! $45.98
    CD: $39.99
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  • 22.
    Opera Goes To The Movies
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 60841 Release Date: 08/21/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Friedrich von Flotow,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Leontyne Price,  Montserrat Caballé,  Alfredo Kraus  ... 
    Conductor:  Nello Santi,  James Levine,  Edward Downes,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 23.
    Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice / Monteux, Stevens, Della Casa
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 63534 Release Date: 08/08/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Risë Stevens,  Lisa Della Casa,  Roberta Peters
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Rome Opera House Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $33.98
    ArkivCD $29.99
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    MP3:  $16.99 Add MP3 to Cart

  • 24.
    Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte / Steber, Peters, Stiedry
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 60652 Release Date: 10/20/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Eleanor Steber,  Josef Blatt,  Richard Tucker,  Frank Guarrera  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Stiedry
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
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    ArkivCD $24.99
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  • 25.
    Amore - Opera's Greatest Romances / Price, Domingo, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 63299 Release Date: 09/15/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Cesare Valletti,  Anna Moffo,  Rosalind Elias,  Alan Titus  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Rafael Kubelik,  Sir Colin Davis,  Jonel Perlea  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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