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 26-50 of 127 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    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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  • 27.
    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: $63.99
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  • 28.
    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,  Staatskapelle Dresden  ... 
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    CD: $205.49
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  • 29.
    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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  • 30.
    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: $24.99
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  • 31.
    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
    Blu-ray Audio: $25.99
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  • 32.
    Voices of French Opera
    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  ... 
    On sale! $24.99
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  • 33.
    Dukas: Ariane et Barbe-Bleue / Deneve, Van Dam, Bardon, Barcelona Teatro Liceu
    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
    Recommendation
    Blu-ray Video: $37.49
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  • 34.
    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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  • 35.
    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 [Soprano Vocal] Augér,  Patrizia Ciofi,  Véronique Gens,  Jessye Norman  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Fabio Biondi,  Christophe Rousset,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 36.
    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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  • 37.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $69.98
    CD: $68.49
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  • 38.
    Solti conducts The Strauss Operas
    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
    CD: $106.49
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  • 39.
    30 Years At La Monnaie/De Munt
    Label: Cypress (Canada)   Catalog: 8603 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Catherine Malfitano,  Scot Weir,  Bart Ravache  ... 
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling,  John Pritchard,  Antonio Pappano,  Michael Schoenwandt  ... 
    CD: $27.49
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  • 40.
    Essential Encores
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 05149 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolò Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Vag Papian,  Maxim Vengerov,  Michael Rabin,  John Lenehan  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Nash Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 41.
    Ravel Complete Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001728702 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Ivo Pogorelich  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Charles Dutoit,  Ernest Ansermet,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London,  Nash Ensemble,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart  ... 
    CD: $106.49
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  • 42.
    Mozart: The Da Ponte Operas / Muti, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 04463 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Maria Bierbaumber,  Franco De Grandis,  Elisabeth Kudrna-Schrei,  Thomas Allen  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
    CD: $43.99
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  • 43.
    Opera Arias
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001707702 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Jacques Offenbach,  Alfredo Catalani  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Huguette Tourangeau,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Richard Bonynge,  Fausto Cleva,  Silvio Varviso  ... 
    CD: $6.99
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  • 44.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Karajan, Tomowa-sintow, Van Dam, Krause, Cotrubas
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 856123 Release Date: 06/19/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Janet Perry,  Zoltan Kélémén,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Frederica Von Stade  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
    CD: $34.99
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  • 45.
    Rameau: Dardanus / Leppard, Von Stade, Soyer, Van Dam
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 662290 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau
    Performer:  Monique Marandon,  Christiane Eda-Pierre,  Michael Devlin,  Georges Gautier  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Chorus,  Paris Opera Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $18.99
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  • 46.
    Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro / Tomowa-Sintow, Cotrubas, von Stade, Karajan, Vienna PO
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001652402 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Kurt Equiluz,  Tom Krause,  Jane Berbié,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $32.99
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  • 47.
    Gounod: Romeo Et Juliette / Plasson, Gheorghiu, Alagna, Keenlyside
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 29036 Release Date: 02/07/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Roberto Alagna,  José van Dam,  Simon Keenlyside,  Marie-Ange Todorovitch  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Chorus
    CD: $12.99
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  • 48.
    Wagner: The Complete Operas / Daniel Barenboim [34-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 66834 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 34
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Falk Struckmann,  Peter Sieffert,  Jane Eaglen,  Robert Holl  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $39.98
    CD: $35.99
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  • 49.
    Mozart: Die Zauberflote / Levine, Cotrubas, Van Dam, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697527702 Release Date: 10/04/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Zdislawa Donat,  José van Dam,  Ileana Cotrubas,  Eric Tappy
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Men,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 50.
    Amadeus: Best of Mozart
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82164 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leopold Mozart,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Emile Naoumoff,  Stephen Hough,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Sabine Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Bryden Thomson,  Hans Vonk,  Jeffrey Tate  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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