The Academy of Vocal Arts

Voice Instructors

Bill Schuman

Internationally acclaimed voice teacher Bill Schuman is a native of Portland, Oregon. He began his voice studies with B. Gibner King, the noted coach of Ezio Pinza and Margaret Harshaw among others. While attending Brigham Young University he studied with Madame Margaret Woodward, a protégéé of Amelita Galli-Curci. After graduation from BYU, Mr. Schuman continued his studies with Rita Streich at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna.

He then moved to Los Angeles where he began an intensive apprenticeship with the famed vocal pedagogue, Luisa Franceschi, who was a protégée of Luisa Tetrazzini and Pietro Mascagni. Mr. Schuman established his studio in New York City and in the years since, many of his students have been heard in the world’s greatest opera houses, Broadway and West End theaters, motion pictures, and countless operatic and musical theater recordings. In 1998, Mr. Schuman was honored by Opera News when they selected him to be the subject of their first interview for their new column, “Voice Talk.”

Mr. Schuman has been a member of the voice faculty of AVA since 1989, and has given master classes throughout the United States and Europe.


William Stone

In addition to his career as an opera singer, concert artist, and recitalist, Mr. Stone’s teaching experience includes master classes across the United States and in Europe, as well as positions with the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, the University of Illinois, and Temple University (Professor Emeritus).

Mr. Stone has sung extensively in the major opera houses of Europe and especially in Italy, having twice opened the May Festival in Florence as Wozzeck and as Orestes, in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride under Riccardo Muti. His creation of the role of Adam for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere of Penderecki’s Paradise Lost was followed by his debut at La Scala in its European premiere.

His North American opera engagements include the Metropolitan Opera, in Moses und Aron, Wozzeck, La traviata, Sly, Die Fledermaus, Romeo et Juliette, Lucia, and Madama Butterfly, and the New York City Opera, as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro and the title roles in new productions of Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler and Busoni’s Doktor Faust.

As a concert artist, Mr. Stone has appeared with every major orchestra in the country, including the New York Philharmonic, under Kurt Masur, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under Seiji Ozawa. His long relationship with Robert Shaw resulted in two Grammy Award recordings.

Equally at home on the recital stage, Mr. Stone considers his many performances of Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch with Benita Valente and David Golub among the most memorable.  

Mr. Stone joined the Academy of Vocal Arts as a visiting guest artist in 2009, and in September, 2010, became a member of the voice faculty. He maintains a private voice studio in Philadelphia as well.


Benita Valente

An internationally celebrated interpreter of lieder, chamber music and oratorio, Benita Valente was equally acclaimed for her performances on the operatic stage. In recent seasons, Ms. Valente is increasingly sought after as a Master Teacher. She has served as the Master Artist at the Cincinnati Conservatory program in Lucca, Italy, and the Florence Voice Seminar in Florence; as well as the European Mozart Academy in Poland and at Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. She also has served as Master Teacher with the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She has given master classes under the auspices of the Aspen Music Festival, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Chautauqua Opera, Music Academy of the West, the Napa Valley Symphony, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Opera, San Francisco Performances, Santa Fe Opera, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She also has given master classes at Boston University, Cornell University, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Temple University, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and for the National Association of Teachers of Singing. She has participated on the jury of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital at the Juilliard School, the Astral Foundation in Philadelphia, the International Schumann Competition in Zwickau, the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation, Young Concert Artists, and the Hugo Wolf Akademie Competition in Stuttgart. Ms. Valente serves on the Board of Directors of Joy in Singing, the Marilyn Horne Foundation and the Walter W. Naumberg Foundation.

Florence Quivar

Adjunct Vocal Coach

Philadelphia native Florence Quivar is an American operatic mezzo-soprano who was considered to be "one of the most prominent singers of her generation."

She enrolled in the Philadelphia Academy of music, attended the Julliard School and studied privately with Marinka Gurewich in New York City and with Maureen Forrester in Philadelphia where she began to focus in on leider 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.


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. 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 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. She joined the staff of the Academy of Vocal Arts in 2014.