Originally from Stratford, Ontario, James Westman has fast established himself as one of today's leading young Verdi baritones, making Germont in La Traviata his signature-role throughout North America and Europe. A noted concert artist, Mr. Westman also likes to spend as much time as possible performing in concert as recital.
James Westman's current projects include returns to the Canadian Opera Company as Frank in Die Fledermaus and to the Calgary Opera as Ford in Falstaff as well as a debut with Opera Tampa, first in Popera concerts and then as Marcello in La Bohème. Mr. Westman will also sing the role of Athanaël in a concert version of Thaïs with Toronto's Opera in Concert. Future plans include a return to the Canadian Opera Company.
This past season, James Westman returned to the Minnesota Opera as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, sang his first Count di Luna in Il Trovatore with Hamilton Opera, and performed in concerts of Bramwell Tovey's The Inventor (in which Mr. Westman sings the title-role) with the Vancouver Symphony, sang a Christmas program with the Guelph Symphony and a recital with the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto.
Recently Mr. Westman returned to the Montreal Opera for Nottingham in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, to the Calgary Opera for the title-role in the world premiere of Bramwell Tovey's The Inventor, Germont in La Traviata for his debut with the Vancouver Opera and was the bass soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Indianapolis Symphony.
In past seasons, James Westman appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, the Santa Fe Opera and Dallas Opera in performances of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, as well as as Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Manitoba Opera. In addition, Mr. Westman made his role debut as the Count in Capriccio with Pacific Opera Victoria.
Other engagements included Mr. Westman's debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a return to Opera Lyra Ottawa as the Count in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and the role of Edward Gaines in Margaret Garner, with Michigan Opera Theatre for performances in Detroit as well as in Chicago. Other additional new roles were Figaro in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Minnesota Opera and Beaumarchais in Opera Theatre of St Louis' The Ghosts of Versailles.
James Westman's recent opera projects included debuts with Opera Pacific as Marcello in La Bohème, and with the Opéra de Bordeaux as Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera followed by returns to Boston Lyric Opera for Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore and to the Opéra de Montreal for Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. In concert, Mr. Westman was heard in Fauré's Requiem with the Florida Orchestra and in Handel's Messiah with Grand Philharmonic Choir. Later in the season, James Westman made his second recording with Opera Rara: the title-role in excerpts of Ricci's Corrado d'Altamura.
James Westman's 2006/2007 season opened with the baritone's signature-role, Germont, with the English National Opera for his London debut. Mr. Westman then returned to Dallas to sing a new role, Talbot in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, before joining the Opéra de Montréal for another new role, Frédéric in Lakmé. Mr. Westman went back to London for a commercial recording for Opera Rara and a concert performance of another Donizetti opera, the rare Imelda de' Lambertazzi. James Westman returned to the Calgary Opera for Escamillo in Carmen and to one of his favorite companies, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, for Germont before making his debut with the Santa Fe Opera as Marcello in La Bohème.
Other engagements include Mr. Westman's Chevreuse in Donizetti's Maria di Rohan at the Wexford Opera Festival, followed by a return to Opera Ontario for concerts of Opera Pops. An exciting project was Mr. Westman's back-to-back productions with the Boston Lyric Opera: first his celebrated Germont in La Traviata and then Athanaël in Thaïs. James Westman sang both Fauré and Duruflé's Requiem Masses with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and was heard in December as the Bass Soloist in Messiah with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In August, he made his Chicago debut as the Bass Soloist in Dvorak's Stabat Mater at the Grant Park Music Festival. Future projects include returns to the Boston Lyric Opera, a debut with Opera Pacific and concerts with the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir.
Prior to that Mr. Westman returned to the Pittsburgh Opera in his most celebrated role, Germont. He made his debut with the Florida Grand Opera as Sharpless before returning to the Toronto Symphony for concerts of Handel's Messiah. In the beginning of 2005, Mr. Westman sang his first Forester in Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen with Pacific Opera Victoria and returned to the San Diego Opera for another new role, Paolo in Simon Boccanegra. This was followed by his debut with the Houston Grand Opera as Ford in Falstaff. Finally, Mr. Westman ended the season with an exciting new role: Mountjoy in Britten's rarely-performed Gloriana with Opera Theater of Saint Louis.
James Westman sang his first Silvio in Pagliacci with the San Francisco Opera and made debuts with the Dallas and San Diego Operas (both times with his signature-role, Germont in La Traviata). Other important debuts were with the Toronto Symphony and Sir Andrew Davis in Berlioz' Roméo et Juliette, with the National Arts Centre for a program of arias and duets with Denyce Graves and with the Baltimore Symphony for Messiah. With the Michigan Opera Theatre, he debuted as Sharpless. His most recent appearances in Europe were for his first Posa in Verdi's Don Carlo in Graz, Austria. The Canadian baritone returned to the Canadian Opera Company as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and to Opera Theatre of St Louis as Athanael in Massenet's rarely heard Thaïs. He also made his debut with the Manitoba Opera as Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte. In concert, Mr. Westman sang Messiah with the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir, Berlioz' Roméo et Juliette with the Edmonton Symphony and Carmina Burana with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst. A consummate recitalist, Mr. Westman appeared in Buffalo, NY under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation shortly after having taken part in their yearly Birthday Gala in New York City.
James Westman started his 2001-2002 season with his first Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore with Opera Hamilton, which he followed with a gala concert appearance for the George London Foundation in New York. Immediately after that, he sang a solo recital in Toronto for the Aldeburgh Connection, performed Messiah in Detroit and appeared in a televised concert with mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. He reprised his Marcello for the Calgary Opera and sang Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, successively in Pittsburgh and in Saint Louis. Mr. Westman also performed in recital in Bradford, PA under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation.
Immediately following the summer of 2000 production of Falstaff at Tanglewood in which he sang his first Ford under Seiji Ozawa, James Westman made his European operatic debut as Germont in La Traviata and Redburn in Billy Budd, both with the Cologne Opera. Other debuts included the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Fort Worth Opera and Bach's B Minor Mass with the Vancouver Symphony. James Westman returned to the San Francisco Opera as Germont and was heard in recital in Detroit, St. Paul, MN and East Lansing, MI.
As a young singer, Mr. Westman's roles with the Canadian Opera Company included the Messenger in Oedipus Rex, the Emperor in The Emperor of Atlantis, Joseph in L'Enfance du Christ, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and the Bass Soloist in Stravinsky's Pulcinella. Later on, he became an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera, where his performances included: Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte, Marcello in La Bohème, Germont in La Traviata, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera and Sid in Albert Herring.
In 1995 Westman performed Purcell's The Fairy Queen under Jane Glover in Oxford and at the 50th Anniversary of the Aldeburgh Music Festival. In 1996 he sang the role of Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro under Maestro Jonathan Darlington at the Buxton Festival in Aldeburgh.
Formerly a successful boy treble, Mr. Westman toured with the American Boys Choir, the Paris Boys Choir and the Vienna Boys Choir. James Westman was the first boy ever to perform the fourth movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 4, and toured this work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany and Russia.
Mr. Westman excels at and enjoys the recital repertoire and he has performed recitals for the Aldeburgh Connection, the Schwabacher recital series and the Marilyn Horne Foundation in New York. International competitions include the 1997 George London Competition, the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, as well as the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.
James Westman has studied with such renowned artists as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Renato Capecchi, Paul Esswood, Régine Crespin, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Virginia Zeani, Marlena Malas, and Diane Forlano. Mr. Westman was also a member of the C.O.C. Ensemble Studio and studied singing with Patricia Kern.
In June 1999, James Westman was a finalist in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.