Speight Jenkins in the New York Post:
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.”
. . . .
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.
On this day in 1968 the Kander-Ebb musical Zorba opened on Broadway.
On this day in 1839 Verdi’s Oberto premiered in Milan.
On this day in 1866 Thomas’ Mignon premiered at the Opéra-Comique.