Roberta Peters, who at 20 was catapulted to stardom as a last-minute substitute in Don Giovanni, died on Wednesday at her home in Rye, New York. The cause of death was Parkinson’s disease. She was 86.
Ms. Peters was one of the most prominent American opera singers, noted for her 35-year run as a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York. In addition to the Met, Peters was heard at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, and many others. She became internationally renowned for her attractive voice and stage presence.
Peters was also popular with both television and theater audiences. She performed in musicals including The King and I and The Sound of Music, and made appearances on The Tonight Show and The Mike Douglas Show. She was also one of the most frequent guests on The Ed Sullivan Show, appearing over 40 times.
Peters was known for taking great care of her voice and continued to sing well into her 70s.
She also had a rich personal life, marrying baritone Robert Merrill in 1952 for a brief period, admitting that she had fallen in love with his voice. She remarried in 1955 to Bertram Fields with whom she had two sons. Bertram died in 2010. Peters is survived by her two sons and four grandchildren.