José Van Dam
World-renowned in concert, opera and recital, José van Dam is one of today’s most honoured interpreters of the bass-baritone repertoire. He has been heard in the music capitals of Europe, the Americas and Japan, singing at opera houses and concert halls under the world’s premier conductors.
The 2008/09 season included the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte at the Paris Opera, the Verdi Requiem with Daniele Gatti in Liège, the Berlioz Romeo et Juliette with Lorin Maazel at Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and a return to the Boston Symphony for concert performances of the title-rôle in Simon Boccanegra led by James Levine.
The 2007/08 season began at Tanglewood with a recital and La Damnation de Faust with the Boston Symphony and James Levine before repeating the work on tour with performances in Lucerne, Essen, Paris and London. Throughout the season Mr van Dam sang Fra Melitone in La forza del destino in Brussels, Germont in La Traviata at the Paris Opera, and recitals in Madrid and Vienna.
Other highlights included Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust with James Levine in Boston, and at Carnegie Hall; Prokofiev’s Love For Three Oranges, the Father in Charpentier’s Louise, Germont in La Traviata, and La Damnation de Faust, all at the Paris Opera; the title-rôle in staged performances of Elijah at the Teatro Communale di Firenze and at the Saito Kinen Festival with Seiji Ozawa; the title-rôle of Boris Godunov and Germont in La Traviata at La Monnaie in Brussels; Janáček’s From The House of the Dead at the Teatro Real in Madrid; Claudius in Hamlet at the Grand Théâtre de Genève; with recitals in Frankfurt, Peralada, and Bucharest and concert appearances at the Concertgebouw and the Verbier Festival.
José van Dam is regularly invited to the world’s major opera houses and festivals including l’Opéra de Paris, Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Brussels’ Théâtre de la Monnaie, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has appeared in numerous operas in these locations portraying Falstaff, Wozzeck, Simon Boccanegra, Don Giovanni, the four villains in the Tales of Hoffmann, Boris Godunov, Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Amfortas (Parsifal), The Flying Dutchman, Jochanaan (Salome), Mephisto in Gounod’s Faust, Scarpia in Tosca, and Gianni Schicchi.
Born in Brussels, José van Dam entered the Brussels Conservatory at age 17, graduating a year later with first prizes in voice and opera performance. Within a few years he won four prizes in competitions, including the Bel Canto Competition in Liège; Concours “Ecole des Vedettes” in Paris; Concours de la Chanson in Toulouse; and the International Music Competition in Geneva. He made his operatic début in Liège as Don Basilio in Rossini’s Barber of Seville and subsequently performed the rôle of Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen at La Scala, Paris Opera, and Covent Garden. Conductor Lorin Maazel asked Mr van Dam to record Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole for Deutsche Grammophon, subsequently inviting him to join the Deutsche Oper in Berlin where he sang his first leading rôles.
The art of José van Dam can be heard on an extensive discography. Among his award-winning recordings are Gounod’s Faust, Enescu’s Oedipe, Massenet’s Don Quichotte, and Pelléas et Mélisande with Claudio Abbado for Deutsche Grammophon. He can be heard as Figaro in the Marriage of Figaro, in Carmen and Die Meistersinger conducted by Sir Georg Solti, Berlioz’ Romeo et Juliette with the Boston Symphony led by Seiji Ozawa, and Simon Boccanegra with Claudio Abbado and the Orchestra of La Scala. Other releases include Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Strauss’ Salome with the Vienna Philharmonic, and many recordings with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic including Beethoven’s Fidelio and Ninth Symphony, the Brahms German Requiem, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and Wagner’s Parsifal. He is a two-time GRAMMY® Award winner, in 1985 for his recording of Ravel songs with Pierre Boulez conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in 1992, Best Opera Recording for Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Mr van Dam has been honoured in many countries around the world. His Majesty Albert II of Belgium named him a baron, and the city of Berlin awarded him the title of “Kammersänger.” For his many extraordinary interpretations in recordings and on stage, he has received the German Music Critics’ Prize, Gold Medal of the Belgian Press, Grand Prix de l’Académie Française du Disque, the Orphée d’Or of the Académie Lyrique Française in 1980 and 1994, the European Critics’ Prize for St Francois d’Assise, and France’s Diapason d’Or and Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque. He was featured in the motion pictures The Music Teacher and Don Giovanni, conducted by Lorin Maazel, and his video recording of Schubert’s Winterreise has been released by Disques Forlane.