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 76-100 of 126 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Angela Gheorghiu - My Puccini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17441 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Angela Gheorghiu,  Roberto Alagna,  Monica Bacelli,  Patrizia Biccire  ... 
    Conductor:  Anton Coppola,  Richard Armstrong,  Antonio Pappano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 77.
    100 Best Puccini
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 236677 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Mario Sereni,  Nicolai Gedda,  Mirella Freni,  Mario Basiola II  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Schippers,  Georges Prêtre,  Gabriele Santini,  Bruno Bartoletti  ... 
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  • 78.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Nepomuk Hummel,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Walton,  Dennis Brain,  Lothar Koch,  Maurice André  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 79.
    Strauss: Salomé / Nagano, Huffstodt, Dupouy, Van Dam
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 91477 Release Date: 06/12/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Jules Bastin,  Jean-Luc Viala,  Hélène Jossoud,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Kent Nagano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon Opera Orchestra
    ArkivCD $33.99
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  • 80.
    Bruckner: Symphonies Nos 8 & 9, Te Deum / Karajan, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001086809 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Agnes Baltsa,  David Rendall,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
    DVD: $46.49
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  • 81.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2072408 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  René Kollo,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Agnes Baltsa,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 82.
    Mozart: Requiem,
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001051002 Release Date: 02/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Rudolf Scholz,  Agnes Baltsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 83.
    Ultimate Opera - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000895102 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Donizetti  ... 
    Performer:  Renata Tebaldi,  Marilyn Horne,  Giuseppe Di Stefano,  Dame Joan Sutherland  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Henry Lewis,  Francesco Molinari-Pradelli,  Lorin Maazel  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 84.
    Mélodies Françaises Vol 2 / José Van Dam, J-p Collard
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54818 Release Date: 05/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Jean-Philippe Collard,  José van Dam,  Guy Rougé
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 85.
    Beethoven: Symphonie No 9 / Karajan, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000815802 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Agnes Baltsa,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  José van Dam,  Peter Schreier
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
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  • 86.
    Beethoven: Fidelio / Dernesch, Vickers, Karajan
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69290 Release Date: 09/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Jon Vickers,  Helga Dernesch,  Zoltan Kélémén,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 87.
    Mozart: Don Giovanni / Maazel, Raimondi, Te Kanawa, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 87758 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Malcolm King,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Ruggero Raimondi,  Kenneth Riegel  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus
    CD: $21.99
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  • 88.
    Offenbach: Les Contes D'hoffmann / Cambreling, Schicoff, Etc
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 58613 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Neil Shicoff,  Ann Murray,  Dale Duesing,  Stefan Dimitrov  ... 
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra,  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Chorus
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  • 89.
    Bernstein Collectors Edition - Mahler III: Symphonies 8-10
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000532402 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Margaret Price,  Judith Blegen,  José van Dam,  Kenneth Riegel  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Vienna Singverein  ... 
    CD: $46.49
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  • 90.
    The Very Best Of Hildegard Behrens
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86308 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Hildegard Behrens,  Robert Schunk,  David Syrus,  José van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Schneider,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Michel Plasson,  Herbert von Karajan
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 91.
    The Very Best Of Jon Vickers
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86338 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Richard Wagner,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Mirella Freni,  José van Dam,  Peter Glossop,  Aldo Bottion  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Georges Prêtre,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
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  • 92.
    Brahms: A German Requiem / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics Encore   Catalog: 85054 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
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  • 93.
    Nuits D'eté / José Van Dam, Jean-philippe Collard
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 964859 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Jules Massenet,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Joseph Guy Ropartz  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Philippe Collard,  José van Dam
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  • 94.
    Classic Library - Verdi: Requiem / Solti, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 62318 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Leontyne Price,  Veriano Luchetti,  Dame Janet Baker,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 95.
    Verdi: Falstaff / Van Dam, Aix-en-provence Festival 1987
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2035 Release Date: 08/31/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Lívia Budai,  William Stone,  Barbara Madra,  José van Dam
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Chorus,  Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie Orchestra
    On sale! $29.99
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  • 96.
    Verdi: Don Carlos / Hampson, Mattila , Alagna, Van Dam
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 2031 Release Date: 09/16/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Roberto Alagna,  Karita Mattila,  Thomas Hampson
    Conductor:  Antonio Pappano
    On sale! $29.99
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  • 97.
    Wagner - The Opera Collection: Die Meistersinger / Solti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470800 Release Date: 02/11/2003   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Alan Opie,  Karita Mattila,  Herbert Lippert  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
    CD: $77.49
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  • 98.
    Mozart: Requiem / Karajan, Tomowa-sintow, Baltsa, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471639 Release Date: 01/14/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  José van Dam,  Rudolf Scholz,  Anna Tomowa-Sintow,  Agnes Baltsa  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
    SuperAudio CD: $24.99
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  • 99.
    Mozart - The Greatest Hits
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 472409 Release Date: 07/16/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux,  Elena Gilels,  Emil Gilels,  Margaret Marshall  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 100.
    Le Meilleur de l'Operette
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 574250 Release Date: 04/02/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Franz Lehár,  Emmerich Kálmán,  Oscar Straus  ... 
    Performer:  Liliane Berton,  Jacqueline Brumaire,  Michel Roux,  Jean-Christophe Benoit  ... 
    Conductor:  Frank Pourcel,  Jean Doussard,  Yvon Leenart,  Pierre Dervaux  ... 
    On sale! $33.98
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