“The most outstanding singing came from Zelotes Edmund Toliver.”
(International Herald Tribune, Zurich);
“Zelotes Edmund Toliver sang the part of Hunding revealing a huge sonorous bass marshaled with great skill.” (The Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Mr. Toliver began his full-time vocal-career in Europe with the Vienna State Opera, singing there in over 135 performances. He has had major guest contracts at: The Zurich Opera; “Deutsche” Opera – Berlin; Théâtre du Châtelet – Paris; Bavarian State Opera – Munich; Netherlands Opera and the Grand Theater of the Geneva Opera. He has worked with such leading conductors as: Erich Leinsdorf, Heinrich Hollreiser, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Nello Santi, and Horst Stein (Vienna), Niksa Bareza (Graz), Ralf Weikert (Zurich), Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jeffery Tate (Paris and Minneapolis), James Conlon (Cologne), Lawrence Renes and Ton Koopman (Netherlands), Hartmut Haenchen (Amsterdam) and Armin Jordan (Geneva).
He has convincingly portrayed among his many roles: Don Basilio, Sarastro, Sparafucile, Boito’s Mefistofele, King Phillip, Grand Inquisitor, Ramphis, King Henry, Gurnemanz, King Marke and Pogner. His interpretations as Fasolt, Hunding, Fafner and Hagen in the Graz Production of Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen” – including television recordings – brought him into recognition as a truly outstanding performer. His repertory encompasses almost all of the major-bass rolls in Mozart, Verdi, and Wagner Operas. During his years in Europe, he has also been a member of the ensembles in Graz, Austria and Dortmund.
In the United States Mr. Toliver, made his opera debut during his student years with The Michigan Opera Theatre and since has appeared with The Wolf Trap Opera, The Cincinnati Opera, The New York City Opera, and The Lyric Opera of Chicago.
In Europe, Asia and Africa Mr. Toliver has had Guest Performances in: Amsterdam – Berlin – Bergen – Budapest – Cologne – Düsseldorf – Essen – Freiburg – Geneva – Graz – Hannover – Innsbruck – Kassel – Mannheim – Munich – Windhoek, Namibia – Osaka – Paris – Rotterdam – Salzburg – Strasbourg -Tokyo – Vienna – Wiesbaden – Zurich, among numerous other cities.
Born on Long Island, New York, Zelotes Edmund Toliver studied at Illinois Wesleyan University earning a Bachelor of Music Education Degree with Honors. He received his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical of Arts Degrees at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor,
where he sang major roles in fourteen different operas. His principal teachers of voice were Professor David Nott and Professor Willis C. Patterson. In Vienna, Austria, he studied with Prof. Franz Schuch-Tovini and won prizes in many international music competitions, including: The International Verdi Voice Competition; Buseto, Italy; The Sixth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, and was a Regional Winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Washington, D.C. Mr. Toliver has received a career study award from the Grinnell Foundation, a National Opera Institute study grant and a professional study grant from the Metropolitan Opera National Council.
Under the baton of James Conlon he appeared on the complete recording of the opera Madama Butterfly, with the Orchestre de Paris and in Alexander von Zemlinsky’s “Der Traumgörge with the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra. The Austrian Radio (ORF) has aired his evening of “Negro Spirituals”. Edmund has a Compact Disc recording of Negro-Spirituals “The Songs of Old Souls”. He has been heard in concert with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller and recently in solo-concert at the Sarov Festival in Russia.
In recent seasons, Mr. Toliver appeared in the solo-opera El Cimarron by Henze in Macerata, Italy and in the oratorios: A Child of Our Time by Tippett and Samson by Handel in Germany, as well as singing recitals in Germany and the United States.
During the 2005-2006 season, Mr. Toliver repeated his success with further performances of El Cimarron , and made his debut at the Royal Opera House La Monnaie in Brussels. He performed concerts in Holland and Germany throughout the season, as well as singing the Inquisitor in Don Carlos in Italy with Katia Ricarelli.
In the past few seasons, Mr. Toliver performed concerts in Prague, the Netherlands, and in Germany, sing the modern Opera Jacob Lenz by Rihm in Italy, and revive his role in The Magic Flute with The Royal Opera La Monnaie both at BAM in New York and in Brussels. In 2008,
Mr. Toliver was proud to come to the Metropolitan Opera to cover the roles of Hunding and Osmin. He sang the lead role in Showboat in Germany, and continued his busy schedule with opera performances and concerts in Germany, Italy, and Austria. Mr. Toliver returned to Rotterdam to perform with the Symphony, to Italy for further performances of Henze’s El Cimarron, and continued to give recitals in Germany and Austria. These last few seasons, Mr. Toliver had a busy schedule performing Nabucco at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Later in the year he returned to The Netherlands for concerts with the Rotterdam Opera Koor, and then to Germany to perform the Verdi Requiem in Dortmund, followed by solo concerts and recitals throughout Germany and Austria. This season, 2012-13 Mr. Toliver will make his debut in Rio, Brazil with a revival of Henze’s opera El Cimmaron, and perform concerts throughout Germany and the Netherlands.
Zelotes Edmund Toliver is not only a guest in many of the European and American opera and concert stages. He was an Associate Professor of Voice with the School of Music at Boston University. He is currently on the faculty of the Folkwang Music Academy (Hochschule) in Essen, Germany and at the Hochschule in Münster.