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 Mčre 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 190 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Great Arias: Amours divins! - Famous French Arias & Scenes
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109240 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Ambroise Thomas
    Performer:  Felicity Lott,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Paul Groves,  Magdalena Kozená  ... 
    Conductor:  Marc Minkowski,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Michel Plasson,  William Christie
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  • 2.
    Great Arias: Amours divins! - Famous French Arias & Scenes [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109241 Release Date: 08/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Ambroise Thomas
    Performer:  Felicity Lott,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Paul Groves,  Magdalena Kozená  ... 
    Conductor:  Marc Minkowski,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Michel Plasson,  William Christie
    Blu-ray Video: $18.99
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  • 3.
    Opera Gold: 100 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002503602 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Marilyn Horne,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Mirella Freni  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Henry Lewis,  Richard Bonynge,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 4.
    Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffman / Alagna, Nagano, Lyon National Orchestra
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 555531 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Leontina Vaduva,  Sumi Jo,  José Van Dam,  Roberto Alagna  ... 
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Opera Orchestra
    CD: $22.99
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  • 5.
    Wagner: Parsifal / Meier, Barenboim, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555535 Release Date: 05/20/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Günter von Kannen,  Siegfried Jerusalem,  José Van Dam,  Waltraud Meier  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $26.99
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  • 6.
    The Leonard Bernstein Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002462302 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 64
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Alessi,  Glenn Dicterow,  Philip Smith,  Jaap Van Zweden  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Bach Festival Percussion Ensemble
    CD: $202.99
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  • 7.
    Verdi: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459302 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 75
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Violeta Urmana,  Stuart Neill,  Maria Guleghina,  Samuel Ramey  ... 
    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: $220.99
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  • 8.
    Berlioz: La damnation de Faust / Otter, Solti [Blu-ray]
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 109182 Release Date: 02/26/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Peter Rose,  Keith Lewis,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  José Van Dam
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $32.49
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  • 9.
    Pierre Boulez conducts Ravel
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875108732 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Jill Gomez,  Jessye Norman,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 10.
    Karajan - The Opera Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002328102 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 70
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Franz Lehár,  Franz von Suppé  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Zednik,  Christine Barbaux,  Katia Ricciarelli,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 11.
    Pierre Bartholomee: Oedipe Sur La Route
    Label: Evidence   Catalog: 11 Release Date: 06/02/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pierre Bartholomée
    Performer:  Nabil Suliman,  Claudio Graisman,  Florence Fischer,  Marc Coulon  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniele Callegari
    CD: $26.99
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  • 12.
    Thomas Hampson - Autograph
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564619045 Release Date: 04/14/2015   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Charles Gounod,  Ambroise Thomas,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Charlotte Margiono,  Delores Ziegler,  Barbara Bonney  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Michel Plasson,  Antonio de Almeida,  Richard Armstrong  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Netherlands Opera Chorus,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 13.
    Beethoven: Symphonies No 5 & 9 / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2072724 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  René Kollo,  Agnes Baltsa,  José Van Dam
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Blu-ray Video: $39.99
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  • 14.
    Autograph – Jose van Dam
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564619049 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach,  Hector Berlioz,  Jacques Ibert,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  José Van Dam,  Rosalind Plowright,  Jean-Philippe Collard,  Dalton Baldwin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling,  Kent Nagano,  Michel Plasson,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra,  Lyon Opera Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $46.98
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  • 15.
    Lorin Maazel - The Complete Early Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002251502 Release Date: 02/17/2015   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Igor Stravinsky,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanine Collard,  Jane Berbié,  Sylvaine Gilma,  Colette Herzog  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $85.99
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  • 16.
    Voce D'Angelo - The Complete Decca Recordings / Renata Tebaldi
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4781535 Release Date: 01/20/2015   Number of Discs: 66
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Giovanni Inghilleri,  Giacinto Prandelli,  Melchiorre Luise,  Fernando Corena  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Erede,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Chorus,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 17.
    Karajan - 1980s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002187902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 78
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Anton Bruckner,  Johannes Brahms,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  José Van Dam,  Barbara Hendricks,  Gösta Winbergh  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Domenico Bartolucci
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    CD: $245.99
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  • 18.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301333 Release Date: 11/24/2014   Number of Discs: 67
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alexander Scriabin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Dönch,  Isabel Strauss,  Walter Berry,  Fritz Uhl  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Anton Webern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 19.
    Rameau - The Opera Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 636487 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau
    Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Anna Maria Panzarella,  Mark Padmore,  Eirian James  ... 
    Conductor:  William Christie,  Jean-François Paillard,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants,  A Coeur Joie Vocal Ensemble,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $88.99
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: Cantata On The Death Of Emperor Joseph Ii, Cantata On The Accession Of Emperor Leopold II
    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
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  • 21.
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1158844 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Werner [Tenor Vocal] Hollweg,  Gundula Janowitz,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $29.99
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  • 22.
    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! $175.98
    CD: $167.49
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  • 23.
    Bizet: Carmen - Highlights / Karajan, Baltsa, Carreras
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002008902 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Katia Ricciarelli,  Mikael Melbye,  Alexander Malta,  Agnes Baltsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus,  Schöneberg Boys Choir
    CD: $6.99
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  • 24.
    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
    On sale! $29.99
    Blu-ray Video: $23.99
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  • 25.
    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
    CD: $84.49
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