Skip to page content

José Van Dam

About this Artist

An acclaimed concert, oratorio, opera, and lieder singer, JOSÉ VAN DAM is one of today’s most renowned and requested interpreters of the bass-baritone repertoire. He has been heard in all of the music capitals throughout Europe, North and South America, and Japan, singing at opera houses and concert halls under many of the world’s preeminent conductors.

This season, Van Dam returns to the United States for re-engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In Europe, his schedule includes performances of Carmen and Die Meistersinge in Brussels; a special Jacques Brel translation/production of Man of La Mancha in Montpellier and Liège; Das Rheingold in Montpellier; recitals in Milan (at La Scala), Nice, and Barcelona; Pelléas et Mélisande in Geneva; and Hamlet in Toulouse and in Paris at the Châtelet. Van Dam began the season in The Damnation of Faust in Japan.

A highly sought-after recitalist, Van Dam has traveled to the U.S. in recent seasons for performances in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Fort Worth. He regularly performs at the most esteemed opera houses and festivals in the world, including the Opéra de Paris, Covent Garden, La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Salzburg Festival, and festivals in Aix-en-Provence and Orange, France. He has portrayed Falstaff, Wozzeck, Simon Boccanegra, Don Giovanni, the four villans in The Tales of Hoffmann, Boris Godunov, Hans Sachs, the Flying Dutchman, Jokanaan (Salome), and Méphistophélès (Gounod’s Faust and Berlioz’ The Damnation of Faust). Recently, he preformed his first Scarpia in Tosca to great acclaim, as well as the title role in Gianni Schicchi. In 1983, he created the title role in Olivier Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise at the Paris Opéra, later garnering acclaim for his performances of the role at the 1992 Salzburg Festival with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen in the Peter Sellars production.

His extensive discography includes recordings under a roster of conductors including Claudio Abbado, Sir Georg Solti, Seiji Ozawa, Herbert von Karajan, and Pierre Boulez for most major labels, including Philips, London/Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, and Virgin Classics. He has received numerous awards for his artistry, having been named a Baron by His Majesty Albert II of Belgium and Kammersänger by the city of Berlin, along with numerous prizes for his performances and recordings.

Born in Brussels, José Van Dam entered the Brussels Conservatory at the age of 17, graduating a year later with diplomas and first prize in voice and opera performance. He made his operatic debut in Liège as Don Basilio in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and subsequently performed as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen at La Scala, in Paris, and at Covent Garden. Lorin Maazel heard Van Dam and invited him to record Ravel’s L’heure espagnole for Deutsche Grammophon with him, and then asked him to join the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, where Van Dam sang his first leading role.