Skip to page content

James Rutherford

About this Artist

Since winning the inaugural Seattle Opera International Wagner competition in 2006, bass-baritone James Rutherford (Rocco) has become renowned for his interpretations of German romantic opera.

With “his rich and booming voice and nuanced acting” (Bachtrack), his celebrated Wagner roles have taken him to the world’s leading operatic stages. He has performed Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for houses including the Bayreuth Festival, Wiener Staatsoper, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Oper Köln, San Francisco Opera, Budapest Wagner Festival, and Glyndebourne Festival; Wolfram in Tannhäuser for San Francisco Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; the title role in Der fliegende Holländer for the Budapest Wagner Festival, Oper Frankfurt, and Oper Stuttgart, as well as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde for Washington National Opera.

Rutherford continues to sing his core repertoire in the 2023/24 season, including the title role in Der fliegende Holländer and Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier for Deutsche Oper am Rhein; Wotan in Das Rheingold in his debut with Calgary Opera, and Wotan in Die Walküre with the Hangzhou Philharmonic and Markus Stenz. He adds the role of Rocco in Fidelio to his repertoire in a tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel.

His recent operatic roles have included the title role in Der fliegende Holländer for Oper Leipzig, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, and Oper Köln; Giorgio Germont in La Traviata for Oper Graz; Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for Oper Leipzig; and Lawrence in The Wreckers for the Glyndebourne Festival. Recent highlights on the concert stage have included a semi-staged performance of The Wreckers at the BBC Proms and the St. John Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Stephen Layton.

His recordings on the BIS label include an album of early 20th-century English songs; Butterworth orchestral songs with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Wagner arias with Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic, and Schubert’s Schwanengesang with the pianist Eugene Asti. Their critically acclaimed recording of Schubert’s Winterreise was released in 2021.