Born: March 3, 1944
Florence Quivar is one of the most prominent American mezzos of her generation and has appeared all over the world in concerts and recitals, winning consistent praise for her musicality and expressiveness. Though her oratorio performances are less frequent, she has enjoyed notable success in that field. And although she has been far less active in the world of staged opera, she has appeared at most of the major opera houses of the world, performing coloratura as well as dramatic mezzo-soprano roles, though most of her performances are in lyric mezzo roles. She has also been particularly active in championing new music, appearing in the world premieres of works by Anthony Davis (The Goddess of the Waters in his opera Amistad at the Lyric Opera of Chicago) in 1999 and William Bolcom (in his song cycle From the Diary of Sally Hemmings at the Library of Congress) in 2001. Her interest in music started early; her mother was a piano teacher who taught voice and who also formed the gospel group the Harmonic Choraliers. Quivar herself made her singing debut at the age of six in a church performance. She became fascinated when she saw Madama Butterfly when the Met company tour performed in Philadelphia, though practical matters made her plan to be an elementary school teacher and enrolled in a teachers' college. Realizing that her true love was really music after just one day of classes, she joined the Philadelphia Academy of Music. After graduating, she briefly enrolled in Juilliard, where she made her stage debut in 1975 as the witch Jezibaba and the Foreign Princess in Dvorák's Rusalka. Not feeling ready to establish herself in New York, she returned to Philadelphia, where she taught and sang recitals with the Franklin Concert Series. Inspired by master classes with Maureen Forrester, Quivar became deeply interested in lieder, as well as oratorio. Returning to New York, she won the Marian Anderson Award, and after drawing the attention of noted impresario Harold Shaw, she began to appear with orchestras all over the United States. She made her Met debut in 1977 as Marina in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, the house at which she has sung the most stage performances.