José Van Dam

Biography

Born: Aug 25, 1940  
José van Dam has recorded nearly 150 roles, appeared in multiple world premieres, received most of the awards given to singers, is one of the most respected musicians of his generation -- and almost nobody outside the world of classical music has even heard his name. His presence is rather austere, and his singing is notable for subtlety and attention to detail. His bass-baritone voice is rich, and his phrasing is impeccable in nearly every Read more musical style, from Baroque to contemporary. He is an intense though introverted actor, and even starred in Le Maitre de Musique, a film about a reclusive singer who retires from the operatic stage to teach. While his somewhat limited bottom range makes the lowest notes of the bass roles problematic, his musicianship and sense of drama more than suffice to win him critical acclaim as Philip II and as Boris.

Unusually for an opera singer, his family was not a musical one. When he was 11, a family friend encouraged him to join the church choir. He began to study sight-singing and piano, and at 13 he became the pupil of Frederic Anspach of the Brussels Conservatory. He entered the Conservatory at the age of 17; won the first prize of the Conservatory the next year; at 20 won first prizes at the Liege and Toulouse competitions; and was engaged by the Paris Opera in 1962, where he made his operatic debut in Berlioz's Les Troyens, as Priam and the Voice of Mercury. In 1964 he sang the role of Escamillo for the first time, appearing in this role countless times in the future and recording it no fewer than four times. In 1965, he joined the Geneva Opera, where he sang the role of Maitre Fal in the world premiere of Milhaud's La Mère Coupable. Lorin Maazel engaged him to sing in his recording of Ravel's L'heure Espagnol on Deutsche Grammophon and invited him to become a member of the Deutsche Oper. He made his La Scala and Covent Garden debuts in 1973; in 1974, was named a Berliner Kammersänger and won the German Music Critics' Prize; and in 1975, made his Metropolitan Opera debut.

During the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to add new roles to his repertoire and began his long-standing partnership with Herbert von Karajan and with the Salzburg Festival. As he and his voice matured, he dropped certain roles, such as Escamillo and Figaro, and added roles such as Philip II, the Flying Dutchman, and Simon Boccanegra. In 1983, he sang the title role in the world premiere of Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise. He also continued to perform and record oratorio repertoire and became a noted interpreter of German lieder and French song, particularly the music of Henri Duparc. In the mid-1990s, he began again to explore new operatic repertoire, portraying Scarpia for the first time in 1995. He fared well in the inevitable comparisons to Gobbi. Both took a similar approach to roles -- studying the historical and literary sources for the character, but regarding them as supplementary to what the composer and librettist created.

He recorded widely for many labels. His aria recital CD on Forlane displays his versatility as an opera singer and his dramatic power. In the Wagner repertoire, his Amfortas in Karajan's recording on DG is a vivid depiction of that tormented king. In French opera, his Don Quichotte (EMI) under Plasson, brings out the humor, nobility, and pathos of the title role. He also was an admirable Leporello in the Losey film of Don Giovanni. Read less

Browse 1-25 of 235 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Beethoven: Cantata On The Death Of Emperor Joseph Ii, Cantata On The Accession Of Emperor Leopold Ii  / Best, 	Corydon Singers
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55479 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Janice Watson,  José Van Dam,  Jean Rigby,  John Mark Ainsley  ... 
    Conductor:  Matthew Best
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Corydon Singers,  Corydon Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 2.
    Gluck: The Great Operas / Gardiner, Minkowski, McCreesh
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002088102 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Derek Lee Ragin,  Sylvia McNair,  Cyndia Sieden,  Richard Croft  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner,  Marc Minkowski,  Paul McCreesh,  Bernhard Forck  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  Les Musiciens du Louvre  ... 
    On sale! $69.98
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  • 3.
    Mozart: Cosi fan Tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni
    Label: Bravissimo Opera Library   Catalog: 9918 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Gundula Janowitz,  Reri Grist,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm,  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Colin Davis,  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 4.
    Richard Strauss: Complete Operas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002013902 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Cäcilie Reich,  Eva Maria Rogner,  Ira Malaniuk  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $259.98
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  • 5.
    Verdi: Don Carlos / Hampson, Mattila , Alagna, Van Dam [blu-ray]
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2031 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  José Van Dam,  Roberto Alagna,  Karita Mattila,  Thomas Hampson
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
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  • 6.
    Strauss: The Great Operas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 3179923 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Gerd Nienstedt,  José Van Dam,  Agnes Baltsa,  Horst Nitsche  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Marek Janowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $110.98
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  • 7.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic [blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001935446 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Agnes Baltsa,  Peter Schreier,  José Van Dam
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 8.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
    CD: $230.49
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  • 9.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
    CD: $137.99
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  • 10.
    Karajan - 1970s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873702 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 82
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Manfredini,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Brandis,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Hans Priem Bergrath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    CD: $313.99
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  • 11.
    Voices of French Opera [5-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 280462 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Jean-Baptiste Lully,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Christoph W. Gluck,  André Modeste Grétry  ... 
    Performer:  Véronique Gens,  Miguel Villabella,  Solange Petit-Renaux,  Patricia Petibon  ... 
    Conductor:  Christophe Rousset,  Maurice Cauchie,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Henri Tomasi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Talens Lyriques,  Les Folies Françoises,  Monteverdi Choir  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 12.
    Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia;  Verdi / Leconte, Lopez-cobos
    Label: Gala   Catalog: 7704860 Release Date: 05/24/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Claude Genty,  Vasso Papantoniou,  Cora Canne-Meijer,  Jean Mollien  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre-Michel Le Conte,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF Lyric Orchestra,  ORTF Lyric Chorus,  Frankfurt Opera Chorus  ... 
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  • 13.
    Magic Verdi
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 282712 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Martina Arroyo,  Piero Cappuccilli  ... 
    Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz,  Riccardo Muti,  Alberto Erede,  Anton Guadagno  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 14.
    Beethoven Masterworks Collection  [51-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001813172 Release Date: 03/19/2013   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Janet Perry,  Agnes Baltsa,  Vinson Cole,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Carlos Kleiber,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $163.49
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  • 15.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001806202 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey,  Violeta Urmana,  Sara Fulgoni  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Lamberto Gardelli,  James Levine,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Voices,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $236.99
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  • 16.
    Dukas: Ariane et Barbe-Bleue / Deneve, Van Dam, Bardon, Jimenez, Charbonnet
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 1098 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dukas
    Performer:  Gemma Coma-Alabert,  José Van Dam,  Elena Copons,  Patricia Bardon  ... 
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 17.
    Dukas: Ariane et Barbe-Bleue / Deneve, Van Dam, Bardon, Jimenez, Charbonnet [blu-ray]
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 7114 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dukas
    Performer:  Beatriz Jiménez,  Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet,  Patricia Bardon,  Elena Copons  ... 
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
    Blu-ray Video: $29.99
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  • 18.
    Wiener Philharmoniker Symphony Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001797302 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Hanna Schwarz,  René Kollo,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Karl Böhm,  Leonard Bernstein,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Monteverdi Choir  ... 
    CD: $163.49
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  • 19.
    The Verdi Opera Selection Vol . I -  Il Trovatore, Don Carlos, Rigoletto
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107524 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Fiorenza Cossotto,  Piero Cappuccilli,  Placido Domingo,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Bertrand De Billy,  Nello Santi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Zurich Opera House Orchestra  ... 
    DVD: $58.99
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  • 20.
    Essential Opera Divas
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234522 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 21.
    Verdi: The Great Operas [35-CDs]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 167452 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Anne Edwards,  Matteo Manuguerra,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  James Levine,  Tullio Serafin,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus  ... 
    CD: $88.99
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  • 22.
    100 Best Operetta
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 972635 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Various,  Franz Lehár,  Carl Zeller,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Mady Mesplé,  Régine Crespin,  Hermann Prey,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 23.
    Poulenc: Complete Works [20-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 972165 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Gabriel Tacchino,  Jacques Février,  Emmanuel Strosser,  Xavier Phillips  ... 
    Conductor:  François Boulanger,  Georges Prêtre,  John Alldis,  Harry Christophers  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Garde Républicaine Soloists Ensemble,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Chorus  ... 
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  • 24.
    Solti Conducts The Strauss Operas [15-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001746102 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Waldemar Kmentt,  Hilde Gueden,  Eberhard Wächter,  Wilhelm Lenninger  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 25.
    Verdi: 6 Great Operas / Claudio Abbado [14-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001725702 Release Date: 10/16/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Elena Obraztsova,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Leo Nucci  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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