For the past two decades, international opera sensation MARQUITA LISTER (Bess) has continued to earn worldwide critical praise for her intense and expressive operatic roles, as well as for her purity of tone and vocal versatility. In addition, her precise, intelligent technique and her determination to dare the utmost in each performance have garnered kudos from critics and colleagues alike, while audiences the world over relish her enormous dramatic capabilities.
Her impressive repertoire includes the works of Verdi, Puccini, Gershwin, and Strauss. Her exquisite voice has been heard in the world’s most important opera houses, including San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, La Scala, Montreal Opera, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Opéra Bastille Paris. And her on-stage partners have been world-renowned artists such as Plácido Domingo, Justino Díaz, Frederica von Stade, Marcello Giordani, Simon Estes, and Sherrill Milnes.
Born and raised in a traditional household in Washington, D.C., Lister enjoyed a conventional upbringing, attending what is now the Ellington School of the Arts High School. She then graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree and went on to earn a Master of Music degree from Oklahoma City University. She also trained for two years with the prestigious Houston Opera Studio.
Her superb voice, combined with a tall, statuesque, and graceful stage presence, elicited invitations to sing some of opera’s most coveted roles, including Aida, Carmen, and Musetta, and it wasn’t long before her performance as Bess in the New York City Opera’s Emmy-nominated production of Porgy and Bess earned her the company’s NYCO Diva Award. Her real breakthrough followed shortly thereafter, with roles in Montreal and Dresden, followed by Alice Ford in Falstaff at the Portland Opera, Salome in Austin, Liù in Turandot in Baltimore, and Tosca in Vancouver.
Upon performing Nedda in I Pagliacci and Musetta in La bohème at the Arena di Verona, Lister firmly established herself as an international star. She received the “Artist of the Year Award” from the Pittsburgh Opera and was engaged by Götz Friedrich, Director and General Manager of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, for his production of Porgy and Bess at the Theater des Westens, after which came her ground-breaking performances at the Bregenz Festival and a tour of Porgy and Bess, which included performances in the U.S., Japan, the Opéra Bastille in Paris, and the Teatro alla Scala di Milano.
Returning to the stage after a prolonged illness in 2007, she enjoyed tremendous success at the Semperoper Dresden. The following year, she traveled to Memphis, where she made her debut as Lady Macbeth and was celebrated in the press as “the ideal cast both in voice and stature.”
Marquita Lister has appeared in a number of television productions, including those with the Boston Pops and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, as well as on PBS and in the broadcast Live from Lincoln Center. She has recorded George Gershwin’s Blue Monday for Telarc Records and excerpts from Porgy and Bess with the Cincinnati Pops, and she can be heard on the Albany Records recording of Where the Sunsets Bleed by Edward Knight. In 2006, she recorded a critically acclaimed Porgy and Bess for Decca Records under John Mauceri, which was hailed by Opera News as one of the best recordings of the year.
She is proud to be the spokesperson for the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation and of her work with the Negro Musicians Fund.