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 51-75 of 127 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    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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  • 52.
    Wagner: Parsifal / Barenboim, Meier, Jerusalem, van Dam, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 4675177 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hilde Leidland,  Helmut Pampuch,  Daniela Bechly,  Pamela Coburn  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $39.99
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  • 53.
    Prokofiev: The Love For Three Oranges / Cambreling, Paris National Opera
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107241 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Guillame Antoine,  Jean-Luc Ballestra,  Barry Banks,  Jean-Sébastien Bou  ... 
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Chorus,  Paris National Opera Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 54.
    50 Best Puccini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 48479 Release Date: 04/19/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Giorgio [Bass Vocal] Tadeo,  Carlo [Tenor Vocals] Bergonzi,  Maria Callas,  Renato Ercolani  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Prętre,  Gabriele Santini,  Bruno Bartoletti,  Antonio Pappano  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 55.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Karajan, Dernesch, Vickers, Van Dam
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 48172 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Helga Dernesch,  Jon Vickers,  Helen Donath,  Zoltan Kélémén  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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    CD: $27.99
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  • 56.
    Gounod: Romeo Et Juliette / Plasson, Gheorghiu, Alagna
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40700 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Anne Constantin,  Christophe Fel,  Alain Vernhes,  Till Fechner  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $36.99
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  • 57.
    Essential Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27920 Release Date: 08/24/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Georges Bizet,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Nicolai Gedda,  Ernest Blanc,  Thomas Hampson  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Thomas Schippers,  Pierre Dervaux,  Gianluigi Gelmetti  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 58.
    Bernstein's Mahler [DVD]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001443709 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Ingrid Mayr,  Edda Moser,  Gerti Zeumer,  Judith Blegen  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Friends of Music Society Chorus,  Vienna Boys' Choir,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung  ... 
    DVD: $32.99
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  • 59.
    50 Best Mozart
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57524 Release Date: 06/29/2010   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  ... 
    CD: $15.99
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  • 60.
    50 Best Opera
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57531 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Gustave Charpentier  ... 
    Performer:  Cornelius Hauptmann,  Margareta Lilowa,  Carolyn Watkinson,  Ursula Kunz  ... 
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington,  Bernard Haitink,  Rafael Kubelik,  Peter Schneider  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 61.
    50 Best Relaxing Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 57547 Release Date: 06/29/2010   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
    CD: $11.99
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  • 62.
    100 Best Verdi
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40878 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Richard Van Allan,  Keith Erwen,  Delia Wallis,  Ferruccio Mazzoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Tullio Serafin,  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 63.
    Best Verdi 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40878 Release Date: 06/08/2010   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  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 64.
    Verdi: Otello / Karajan, Vickers, Freni, Glossop, van Dam, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 56450 Release Date: 04/20/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  Aldo Bottion,  Stefania Malagú,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
    Recommendation
    CD: $24.99
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  • 65.
    Mahler: The Symphonies / Leonard Bernstein [11-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001408102 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Kenneth Riegel,  Agnes Baltsa,  Hermann Prey  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $78.49
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  • 66.
    Essential Mozart
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95457 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    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  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna String Sextet Members,  London Symphony Orchestra Wind and Brass Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 67.
    Massenet: Don Quichotte / Van Dam, Berganza, Plasson
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 09100 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jules Massenet
    Performer:  Gérard Blatt,  Isabelle Vernet,  Nicolas Rivenq,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Chorus,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $24.99
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  • 68.
    Prima Donna - The First Ladies Of Opera
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001396202 Release Date: 02/09/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini,  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Karita Mattila,  Montserrat Caballé,  Danielle De Niese,  Elina Garanca  ... 
    Conductor:  John Pritchard,  Sir Colin Davis,  William Christie,  Roberto Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Les Arts Florissants  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $22.99
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  • 69.
    Ravel: Sheherazade, Chansons Madecasses / Boulez, Norman, Harper, Van Dam
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 39023 Release Date: 01/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Jessye Norman,  Jill Gomez,  Heather Harper  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble InterContemporain members,  BBC Symphony Orchestra members
    Recommendation
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 70.
    Gounod: Faust / Michel Plasson, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 66773 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Martine Mahé,  Marc Barrard,  Thomas Hampson  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French Army Chorus,  Toulouse Capitole Chorus,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
    CD: $36.99
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  • 71.
    Gounod: Mireille / Freni, Vanzo, Plasson
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 86186 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Gabriel Bacquier,  Christine Barbaux,  Jane Rhodes,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Chorus,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
    Recommendation
    CD: $24.99
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  • 72.
    Offenbach: Contes D'hoffmann /  Levine, Domingo, Malfitano, Friedmann
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 793093 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Gérard Friedmann,  Kurt Rydl,  Rémy Corazza,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $34.99
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  • 73.
    Opera Exclusive - Opera National de Paris
    Label: Tdk   Catalog: 8 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Denis Aubry,  Jeannette Fischer,  Nicholas Garrett,  Carlos Chausson  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Campanella,  Sylvain Cambreling,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Orchestra,  Paris National Opera Chorus
    DVD: $58.99
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  • 74.
    Ravel: Orchestral Songs;  Roussel: Symphony No 3 / Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64107 Release Date: 04/23/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Albert Roussel
    Performer:  Jill Gomez,  Jessye Norman,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble InterContemporain,  New York Philharmonic
    CD: $17.99
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  • 75.
    Ravel: L'enfant Et Les Sortileges, Ma Mere L'oye / Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64197 Release Date: 04/07/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Soren Von Billerbeck,  José van Dam,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Sylke Schwab  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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