[Met Performance] CID:243360
Cosė Fan Tutte {76} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/17/1975.

(Roberta Peters's 25th Anniversary
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
November 17, 1975
In celebration of Roberta Peters' twenty-fifth anniversary with the company


COSĖ FAN TUTTE {76}

Fiordiligi..............Elizabeth Harwood
Ferrando................Ryland Davies
Dorabella...............Anne Howells
Guglielmo...............Richard Stilwell
Despina.................Roberta Peters
Don Alfonso.............Renato Capecchi

Conductor...............Kazimierz Kord

Presentation

William Rockefeller, president, Metropolitan Opera Association

[The onstage ceremony honoring Peters preceded Act II.]

Review of Speight Jenkins in the Post

Roberta's Appearance at the Met Last Night a Silver Lining

Last night, 305 Metropolitan Opera performances later, Roberta Peters celebrated the silver anniversary of her Met debut. Her Cinderella story, often told but still a dream for countless young singers in this city, was recounted to the audience at the intermission of last night's "Cosi Fan Tutte" by Met board president William Rockefeller.

Miss Peters was summoned in the afternoon of Nov. 17, 1950, and told that Nadine Conner, the scheduled Zerlina for that night's "Don Giovanni" had become ill. She went over the score with Fritz Reiner (they really had conductors like that for Mozart 25 years ago!) and that night went on to fame and glory. Last night the soprano sang her 24th Met Despina in "Cosi" and she acquitted herself well indeed,

At the ceremony after Act I, Rockefeller presented a silver bowl to her, but Martin E. Segal, the city's cultural commissioner, unthawed the officialese. He noted the obvious, but previously unmentioned fact, that time has been more than kind to Miss Peters, who looks few of her 45 years. And then he quoted a certificate from Mayor Beame in which the soprano was called "a brilliant diamond in our city's cultural tiara."

From the Bronx

Miss Peters accepted the bowl and the certificate and spoke long and well. She praised her parents and grandparents, her sons and husband and this city in which she trained. She thanked the orchestra and chorus, her beloved mentor Jan Peerce, a few special friends in the house such as Francis Robinson and her many fans. She ended up by saying that "a little girl from the Bronx had really made it."

The Metropolitan's press release announcing the silver celebration listed her roles and numbers of performances in each; 18 of her 20 roles have been sampled by this listener over the years, and the Despina performance last night summed up much of what Roberta Peters has meant to the Met.

First of all she is a pro. She has never been one to sing only when she feels like it or give anything less than her all. Her voice is not the largest or the most individual instrument, and sometimes over the years it seemed - maybe in a Gilda (in "Rigoletto") or a Rosina (in "The Barber") - that she had been heard too often in the same part.

Excellent Intonation

But she has always sung accurately, with excellent intonation - a characteristic that she did not share with any of her colleagues onstage last night - and she has never been guilty of tastelessness. There are many kinds of Despina, and unfortunately the one in vogue at the moment - largely because of a production a few years ago in Salzburg -- is the coarse hoydenesque variety who would not have been allowed to clean Fiordiligi's shoes much less be her personal maid.

Ignoring the fad, Miss Peters typically played the role with simple charm and cuteness. If her voice lacked some of the plush and volume of years gone by, it is still a solid, lyric instrument capable of many more Met evenings. And whether she was carrying out some of the original staging of Alfred Lunt (she first sang this "Cosi" on Jan. 13, 1953) or trying desperately to pull the ensemble together, she was as always a first-class Mozartean.

Miss Peters' anniversary is not the only one that has happened recently at the Met. About two weeks ago the silver anniversary of Lucine Amara also took place. Miss Amara made her debut on Rudolf Bing's [first] night, and she has gone on to be one of the company's most valuable members. If her occasion and her receipt of a silver bowl got less attention than Miss Peters', both have meant much to the Metropolitan. And both are daughters of that institution and none other. An occasional performance in Europe notwithstanding, both sopranos have done the vast majority of their work either at 39th Street or at Lincoln Center.

And in this age of the travelling singer and the foolish continued worship of the foreign - the 1951-52 "Cosi" was all-American and so much stronger in every respect than the performance last night that one dare not compare the two - we must remember that our national opera house has been kept.



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