Florence Quivar (born March 3, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American operatic mezzo-soprano who was considered to be "one of the most prominent singers of her generation." She has variously been described as having a "rich, earthy sound and communicative presence" as "always reliable" and as "a distinguished singer, with a warm, rich voice and a dignified performing presence."
Early life and education
Quivar first became interested in music as a child. Her mother was a piano and voice teacher who also formed the gospel group the "Harmonic Choraliers". Quivar studied piano and voice with her mother as a child and began singing solos at church by age six. As a teenager she became interested in opera when she saw the Metropolitan Opera's touring production of Madama Butterfly to Philadelphia. Although she wanted to pursue a performing career, Quivar initially decided to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher and enrolled in a teachers' college. After just one day of classes, she realized that her true love was really music, and soon enrolled in the Philadelphia Academy of Music. After graduating, she entered the Juilliard School in 1975. Although she did not stay at the school very long, she did appear as Ježibaba and the Foreign Princess in Dvořák's Rusalka at the Juilliard Opera Center. She later studied privately with Marinka Gurewich in New York City.
Quivar returned to Philadelphia to study in master classes with Maureen Forrester where she began to focus in on lieder and oratorio repertoire. She made her professional recital debut in Philadelphia in 1976 as part of the Franklin Concert Series. That same year, she won the Baltimore Lyric Opera Competition and then returned to New York where she won the Marian Anderson Award. These competition wins drew the attention of noted impresario Harold Shaw and quickly led to engangements at the Metropolitan Opera and orchestras throughout the United States.
In 1976, Quivar portrayed Serena in the Cleveland Orchestra's production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The concert was recorded and went on to win a Grammy Award for best opera recording. The following year Quivar made her debut at the Tanglewood Festival singing in the world premiere of Roger Sessions When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She also made her Metropolitan Opera début on October 10, 1977 as Marina in Boris Godunov. She became a regular at the Met during the 1980s and 1990s, appearing as Jocasta in Oedipus rex, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, Federica in Luisa Miller, Fidès in Le prophète, Frugola in Il tabarro, Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Louis XV Chair in L'enfant et les sortilèges, the Princess in Suor Angelica, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, and Serena in Porgy and Bess. Her 101st and last performance at the Met was in a concert performance of Verdi's Requiem in 1997 where she sang the mezzo soprano solos under the baton of James Levine.
Quivar's other opera credits include performances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian State Opera, La Scala, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Teatro Colón, Royal Opera at Covent Garden, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, and Los Angeles Opera among others. Her other roles includes Adalgisa in Norma, the title role in Carmen, Erda in Siegfried and Das Rheingold, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde and Orpheus in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, the latter being a role with which she became particularly associated.
She has also performed with many of the world's premiere orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to name just a few.
Quivar has taken on the task of rescuing the works of forgotten composers, concentrating on those of African-American composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her stated goal is "to compile a program of these neglected composers and someday record them." She has also performed in productions of African-American composers' works, as well as a 1981 revival of Virgil Thomson's Four Saints.
She has also been a champion of new music. In 1999 she performed the role of The Goddess of the Waters in the world premiere of Anthony Davis' opera Amistad at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also premiered William Bolcom's song cycle From the Diary of Sally Hemmings at the Library of Congress in 2001. She has since performed the cycle in recitals throughout the United States in a tour with Harolyn Blackwell in 2002-2003.
Quivar remained active in opera performances until the mid-2000s, when she retired from the operatic stage. She remains active as a concert and recital performer.
Watch and listen
- To hear Quivar sing Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera on YouTube
- To hear Quivar sing with Luciano Pavarotti on YouTube
Choral and symphonic
|1990||Ride on, King Jesus!||Traditional Spirituals||Joseph Joubert (piano)
Larry Woodard (piano)
Boys Choir of Harlem
- All Media Guide, LLC (2006). Florence Quivar Allmusic Biography at the Wayback Machine (archived June 8, 2005) through Google cache. Retrieved on February 8, 2007.
- New York Times Company (August 25, 2001). Understated Elegance Spiced With Surprises by Anthony Tommasini. Retrieved on February 8, 2007.
- New York Times Company (May 29, 1999). Masur Adds Some Curves To the Angles Of the Missa by Bernard Holland. Retrieved on February 8, 2007.
- New York Times Company (July 31, 1998). Classical Music and Dance Guide (various authors). Retrieved on February 8, 2007.
- Forbes, Grove Music Online
- Metropolitan Opera Archives
- Mauro, Lucia (1997). Careers for Stagestruck & Other Dramatic Types. Lincolnwood, Illinois: VGM Career Horizons. p. 89. ISBN 0-8442-4327-2.
- J. Southern, Eileen (1997). The Music of Black Americans: A History. Lincolnwood, Illinois: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 448. ISBN 0-393-03843-2.
- Elizabeth Forbes: "Florence Quivar", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 21, 2008), (subscription access)