American soprano Roberta Peters died yesterday, 18 Janaury, at the age of 86. Born in 1930 in the Bronx, New York City, the child of a shoe salesman and a hat maker, she was encouraged by tenor Jan Peerce to study singing. She started her when she stepped in to replace Nadine Conner as Zerlina at the Met, in November 1950. She was 20, had never performed on stage, nor had she sung with a full orchestra, but her performance was received with great enthusiasm.

With a beautiful timbre and a remarkable coloratura agility, Peters became a favourite of American audiences. She sang 515 performances with the Met over the course of her 35-year career and was one of the preeminent Met stars of the second half of the 20th century, the opera house said in a statement. In total, she sang 24 roles with the Met, also including Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte, and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor.

Peters also sang at the Royal Opera House in London, in several opera houses in Italy, the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. She has a huge discography with RCA and Deutsche Grammophon.

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