José van Dam


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 126 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    100 Best Verdi
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548466 Release Date: 11/06/2020   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Rolando Villazón,  Renato Bruson,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Marcello Viotti,  Giuseppe Patané,  Julius Rudel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 2.
    50 Best Mozart
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548164 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Leopold Mozart,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Emile Naoumoff,  Jack Brymer,  Christian Zacharias,  Frank Peter Zimmermann  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Sir Neville Marriner,  David Zinman  ... 
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  • 3.
    50 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548163 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Heather Harper,  Thomas Allen,  Elisabeth Gale  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Bernard Haitink,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Karl Böhm  ... 
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  • 4.
    50 Best Relaxing Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548162 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet,  Gabriel Fauré,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Hans Kalafusz,  Stephen Farr,  Han-Na Chang,  Jacqueline Du Pré  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Sir Neville Marriner,  David Hill,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra Wind and Brass Ensemble
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  • 5.
    Albert Roussel Edition
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 548916 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Albert Roussel
    Performer:  Jean Doyen,  Turibio Santos,  Lily Laskine,  Jonathan Snowden  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-Pierre Jacquillat,  Michel Plasson,  Charles Dutoit,  Jean Martinon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio à cordes de Paris,  Quatuor Via Nova,  Paris Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $29.98
    CD: $26.99
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  • 6.
    Berlioz: Complete Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 585940 Release Date: 02/01/2019   Number of Discs: 27
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Claude-J Rouget de Lisle,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Jean Paul Egide Martini  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolai Gedda,  Charles Burles,  Marie-Claire Jamet,  Donald McInnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Mariss Jansons,  André Previn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Classical Players,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $89.98
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  • 7.
    Faure: Piano Works; Chamber Music; Orchestral & Choral Works; Requiem
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 573653 Release Date: 08/24/2018   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré
    Performer:  Jean-Philippe Collard,  Bruno Rigutto,  Augustin Dumay,  Frédéric Lodéon  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parrenin String Quartet,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Alix Bourbon Vocal Ensemble  ... 
    On sale! $44.98
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  • 8.
    The Gounod Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 571553 Release Date: 06/08/2018   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Mirella Freni,  Michèle Command  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Prêtre,  Michel Plasson,  Jean-Claude Hartemann,  Michel Corboz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Chorus,  Paris Opera Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
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  • 9.
    Verdi: Don Carlos / Pappano, Alagna, Mattila
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 570771 Release Date: 05/04/2018   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Karita Mattila,  Roberto Alagna,  Anat Efraty,  Donna Brown  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Théâtre du Châtelet Chorus,  Paris Orchestra
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 10.
    Debussy: The Complete Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 565660 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Robert Schumann,  Joachim Raff,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  Cécile Ousset,  Michel Béroff,  Samson François  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  François-Xavier Roth,  Armin Jordan,  Jean Martinon  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Ebène,  Nash Ensemble,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
    On sale! $89.98
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  • 11.
    Wiener Philharmoniker: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797090 Release Date: 03/31/2017   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Anton Dermota,  Irmgard Seefried,  Rosette Anday,  Paul Schöffler  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Rafael Kubelik,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Kuchl String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $214.99
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  • 12.
    Karajan Sacred & Choral Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797060 Release Date: 03/10/2017   Number of Discs: 29
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Anton Dermota,  Hilde Rössel-Majdan,  Wolfgang Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Domenico Bartolucci
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $97.99
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  • 13.
    Gounod: Mors et Vita / Plasson, Hendricks, van Dam, Toulouse
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 559445 Release Date: 02/10/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Nadine Denize,  John Aler,  José van Dam,  Barbara Hendricks
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Orféon Donostiarra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 14.
    Debussy: Pelleas et Melisande / Karajan, Stade, Stilwell, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 559210 Release Date: 01/20/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Nadine Denize,  Pascal Thomas,  Richard Stilwell,  Frederica Von Stade  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 15.
    Puccini: Il Trittico / Pappano, London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 559214 Release Date: 01/20/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Neil Schicoff,  Felicity Palmer,  Bernadette Manca di Nissa,  Maria Guleghina  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Voices
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  • 16.
    Mozart: Arias / Breslik, Lange, Munich Radio Orchestra
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 889161 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Pavol Breslik,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Patrick Lange
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 17.
    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: $25.99
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  • 18.
    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
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 19.
    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
    On sale! $24.98
    CD: $22.99
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  • 20.
    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: $270.99
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    Verdi: Requiem / Price, Baker, Luchetti, van Dam, Solti, Chicago Symphony
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697705692 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Veriano Luchetti,  José van Dam,  Dame Janet Baker
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    CD: $11.99
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  • 23.
    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
    On sale! $28.99
    Blu-ray Video: $23.99
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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: $85.49
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