James Westman

Introduction

“Internationally acclaimed Canadian Baritone James Westman “acts as impressively as he sings, stealing the show.”

Financial Times, London

Biography

Internationally acclaimed Canadian Baritone, James Westman,
“acts as impressively as he sings, stealing the show.”
– London, England Financial Times

His success on the concert stage continues to flourish and he has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras. He has sung Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Vancouver Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. He was featured in Carmina Burana with the Cleveland Orchestra, in Berlioz’ seldom performed Romeo et Juliette with the Edmonton Symphony and the Toronto Symphony, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Vancouver Symphony. He has performed solo Gala concerts with the Boston, San Francisco, Baltimore and Indianapolis symphonies, as well as with Thirteen Strings and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa.

Mr. Westman placed first in all the international competitions in which he has participated, including the George London Competition (1997), the D’angelo Competition (1997), the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyrique (1996), and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation (1999) and Marilyn Horne Foundation Award (1999). In June of 1999 he was a finalist and the audience favorit at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.

Recent performance credits include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Dallas Opera and Santa Fe Opera; Germont  La traviata for Vancouver Opera; Talbot in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for Opéra de Montréal; Sandy Keith in Tovey’s The Inventor remounted for Calgary Opera; Messiah with the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir; Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with the Indianapolis Symphony; plus recording and performing Britten’s War Requiem in Japan under Seiji Osawa for Decca Records. He performed at Houston Grand Opera’s 50th anniversary Gala with Sir Elton John, Bryn Terfel, Frederica Von Stade, and Renee Fleming, hosted by Sir Roger Moore.

Upcoming season appearances include: Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff for Calgary Opera and Opera Hamilton; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Opera Lyra Ottawa at the National Arts Centre; Sandy Keith in Tovey’s The Inventor for Vancouver Symphony; record The Inventor for CBC records; Carmina Burana with Toronto and Vancouver symphonies; and recording a CD of English, American, and Canadian songs  for Sony BMG, England with Stuart Bedford.

James Westman’s professional development has been influenced by such renowned artists as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Renato Capecchi, Paul Esswood, John F.M. Wood, Carl Duggan, Lois Marshall, Patricia Kern, Régine Crespin, Warren Jones, Martin Katz, Virginia Zeani, Marlena Malas, Theodore Uppman, Diane Forlano, and Marilyn Horne.

Nominated for two Grammy awards and three Canadian Juno awards, Westman has recorded for Decca, Opera Rara, CBC and BBC.

Mr. Westman lives by the Avon in Stratford, Ontario, Canada with his wife Nadine (Dini) and their two sons Liam and Hardy; situated close to the Westman’s and Marshall / Levy heritage farms which have been in his family since the 1700’s!

"Westman, with a lush, soaring, flexible voice that equips him to be a Verdi and Puccini baritone, is heir to some of the most coveted roles in Opera."

– Paula  Citron, The Globe and Mail

September 2013

Full Repertoire

Opera

Bellini Sir Riccardo Fourth I PURITANI
Bizet Escamillo CARMEN
  Zurga LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES
Britten Billy Budd/Reburn BILLY BUDD
  Sid ALBERT HERRING
  Mountjoy GLORIANA
Charpentier Philosopher LOUISE
Corigliano Beaumarchais GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES
Delibes Frédéric LAKMÉ
Donizetti Dr. Malatesta DON PASQUALE
  Belcore L'ELISIR D'AMORE
  Bonafacio IMELDA DE LAMBERTAZZI
  Enrico LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR
  Talbot MARIA STUARDA
  Duke of Nottingham ROBERTO DEVEREUX
Gounod Valentine FAUST
Janáček Forester CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN
Leoncavallo Tonio/Silvio PAGLIACCI
Mascagni Alfio CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA
Massenet Athanaël THAÏS
Moore Horace Tabor BALLAD OF BABY DOE
Mozart Guglielmo COSÌ FAN TUTTE
  Il Conte LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
  Papageno DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE
Pulenc Marquis DIALOGUE OF THE CARMELITES
Puccini Marcello/Schaunard LA BOHÈME
  Sharpless MADAMA BUTTERFLY
  Lescaut MANON LESCAUT
  Ping TURANDOT
Ricci Corrado CORRADO D'ALTAMURA
Rossini Figaro IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA
  Dandini CENERENTOLA
Strauss, J. Frank DIE FLEDERMAUS
Strauss, R. Olivier CAPRICCIO
  Robert Storch INTERMEZZO
  Jupiter DIE LIEBE DER DANAE
  Herr Von Faninal DER ROSENKAVALIER
Verdi Renato UN BALLO IN MASCHERA
  Posa DON CARLO
  Ford FALSTAFF
  Giacomo GIOVANNA D'ARCO
  Miller LUISA MILLER
  Macbeth MACBETH
  Boccanegra/Paolo SIMON BOCCANEGRA
  Germont LA TRAVIATA
  Count di Luna IL TROVATORE
  Guy du Montrfort LES VÊPRES SICILIENNES
Wagner Wolfram TANNHAUSER
Concert
Bach JONANNES PASSION  
  MATTHÄUS PASSION  
  SELECTED CANTATAS  
Barber DOVER BEACH  
Beethoven CHORAL FANTASIA  
  MASS IN C  
  SYMPHONY NO. 9  
Berlioz L'ENFANCE DU CHRIST  
  ROMÉO ET JULIETTE  
Brahms REQUIEM  
Britten WAR REQUIEM  
Copland OLD AMERICAN SONGS  
Duruflé REQUIEM  
Dvořák STABAT MATER  
Fauré REQUIEM  
Handel ACIS GALATEA  
  HERCULES  
  JUDAS MACCABEUS  
  MESSIAH  
Mahler SYMPHONY NO. 8  
Mendelssohn ELIJAH  
Mozart REQUIEM  
Orff CARMINA BURANA  
Purcell DIDO AND AENEAS  
  FAIRY QUEEN  
Stravinsky OEDIPUS REX  
Vaughan Williams FANTASIA ON CHRISTMAS CAROLS  
  FIVE MYSTICAL SONGS  
  SEA SYMPHONY  
  SERENADE TO MUSIC  

Engaged By

Aldeburgh Connection
Attila Glatz Productions
Boston Lyric Opera
Calgary Opera
Canadian Opera Company
Chicago Lyric Opera
Dallas Opera
Elora Festival
English National Orchestra
Florida Grand Opera
Florida Orchestra
Grand Philharmonic Choir
Grant Park Festival
Houston Grand Opera
Indianapolis Symphony
Manitoba Opera
Minnesota Opera
National Arts Centre Orchestra
New Jersey Opera
New York City Opera
Opéra Bordeaux
Opera Hamilton
Opera Lyra
Opéra de Montréal
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Pacific Opera Victoria
Pittsburgh Opera
Richard B. Fisher Center
Saito Kinen Festival
San Diego Opera
San Francisco Opera
San Francisco Symphony
Santa Fe Opera
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Toronto Symphony
Vancouver Symphony
Wexford Festival

Reviews

 

"Baritone James Westman's passionate performance as Germont, showed wide dramatic range and superb vocal control. His keen sense of theatric expression kept the audience riveted to his every utterance."
Opera News, Robert Coleman

Toronto Symphony, Carmina Burana
“Of the three soloists, baritone James Westman had the most to sing.  He dispatched his music with aplomb, from rock solid lows to powerful highs, not to mention a surprisingly mellifluous falsetto in “Dies, nox et omnia.”
-Joseph So, La Scena Musicale

 

Utah Opera, La Traviata
But perhaps most impressive of all is baritone James Westman as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. He’s a veteran of this role, and the psychological depth he brings to it elevates the production. The emotional journey he takes in the course of a single aria is remarkable to witness.
- Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Vancouver Opera, La Traviata

"Interestingly, the star of the evening was neither of the leads, although both were superbly cast in their roles. The loudest applause at curtain call, and what seemed to me to be the strongest performance overall – at least the one that overcame the scenery -- was delivered by baritone James Westman, singing the role of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont. Westman simply took control of the stage and made it his own when he was on it, taking hold of the role and never letting go. He gave one of those performances that becomes inextricably linked to how the character should be sung by future Germonts. Westman had strong stage presence and was able to exploit through his voice every emotion a father could feel in the depths of his soul for his son. Well done!"

--Paul Joseph Walkowski, OperaOnline.us

"But my highest praise goes to James Westman who presented a masterful and superlative performance, oh where to begin. A singer who clearly understands every word he sings... acting that does not seem like acting... Mr. Westman's breath and phrasing is also superior, and the textures and colours of his baritone... wow!"

-Monseiurcoco. com

"It was baritone James Westman, as Germont, who really impressed with his deep voice and richly sympathetic acting. His two arias, first with Violetta followed closely by his "Di Provenza il mar" with Alfredo, were standouts, both being genuinely moving and beautifully sung."

-Lloyd Dykk, Straight.com

"The same sense of finely observed detail extends to the central roles. As Alfredo's father, baritone James Westman comes across as a seasoned singing actor; his big second act encounter with Violetta has honesty and depth."

-David Gordon Duke, Vancouver Sun

"James Westman gave us a distressed father to perfection."

-Jack Caldwell

Opéra de Montréal, Maria Stuarda

"James Westman incarne un Nottingham manifestement assailli par le doute et presque continuellement agité. Même s’il paraît parfois sombrer dans une forme véhémente de nostalgie, cet impulsif sait à tout moment contenir sa rage autant par le geste que par l’expression vocale. Son magnifique baryton et un jeu très crédible expriment précisément l’anxiété dans l’air « Forse in quel cor »"

-Réal Boucher, Opera forum

"Le baryton canadien James Westman joue et chante avec force le duc de Nottingham, mari de Sara, ami puis ennemi de Devereux."

-Claude Gingras, La Presse

Opéra de Montréal, Roberto Deveraux

"Canadian baritone James Westman was rich, steady and believable as the Duke of Nottingham."

-Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette

"Above all, there’s a wonderfully balanced and solid cast ...He’s a star on the rise.Canadian Baritone James Westman’s Nottingham rounded out the leads well. While all of the cast are also fine actors...."

-Alan Conter, Globe & Mail

Dallas Opera, Madama Butterfly

"Baritone James Westman delivered a vocally and dramatically nuanced performance in the role of Sharpless."

Wayne Lee Gay, Frontrow, Dallas Arts

Opera Pacific Victoria, Cappricio

"James Westman and the mezzo-soprano Norine Burgess bring considerable energy and charm to the more thinly drawn roles of the Count and the actress Clairon."

-Victoria Times Colonist

"Dashing baritone James Westman, sang the part of the "un-musical"; Count with fluid charm."

-Elizabeth Paterson, Review Vancouver

"James Westman’s Count and Norine Burgess’ Clairon sang well and worked up a suitable level of chemistry."

-Bernard Jacobson, Seen and Heard

"James Westman portrays the Count as an overgrown boy (perhaps one of Bertie Wooster’s friends) – and he sings well, too."

-Michael Johnson, Concertbet.com

Santa Fe Opera, Madam Butterfly

"Baritone James Westman's Sharpless is sympathetic right-mindedness itself."

-Robert Punt, LA Opus: Madame Butterfly takes wing in Santa Fe

"When warned by Sharpless (the hearty baritone James Westman), the American consul at Nagasaki, that the adolescent Butterfly is taking this marriage seriously."

-Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

"Equally excellent cast: baritone James Westman as a sympathetic Sharpless."

-David Gregson, Opera West

The Ghosts of Versailles (Beaumarchais), Opera Theatre St. Louis

"Baritone James Westman commanded his role in its many aspects, both musical and dramatic."

virtualfarmboy, A weekend at Opera Theatre of St.

"James Westman was a warmly attractive Beaumarchais, and he provided a comfortable emotional focus for the audience."

-Judith Malafronte, Opera News

The Barber of Seville, Manitoba Opera

"James Westman as the self-satisfied Figaro was a comic and vocal delight. In the infamous Largo al factotum, his robust voice and animated face had the audience in the palm of his hand. Wheeling his trolley complete with barber pole, wigs and bottles of lotions, he illustrated the aria's lyrics with playful body language. We never wanted him to leave the stage."

-Gwenda Nemerofsky, Winnipeg Free Press

Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Canadian Opera Company

“James Westman found the right mixture of gravitas and concern as Sharpless”

-John Terauds, Toronto Star

"David Pomeroy and James Westman make a vocally rich Pinkerton and Sharpless."

-Glenn Sumi, Now Toronto

…Westman a deeply compassionate Sharpless.”

-Christopher Hoile, Eye Weekly

"…James Westman makes a vocally rich Sharpless”

-Glenn Sumi, Now Magazine

Opera Theatre of St.Louis, The Ghosts of Versailles (Beaumarchais)

“The Beaumarchais of James Westman could hardly have been better.”

-Lawrence J. Dennis, Opera Canada

“Baritone James Westman (Beaumarchais) was appealing and energetic.”

-Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

“James Westman's Beaumarchais held the stage as by right, and sang robustly.”

-Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post Dispatch

Corrado on the Opera Rara Recording of Ricci’s Corrado d’Altamura

“Thank goodness, the title-role of Corrado is given the royal treatment with James Westman (heard previously in “Imelda de’ Lambertazzi”).  Let us hope that Opera Rara, which sometimes casts operas fancifully, will keep this baritone in its good graces.  With exceedingly beautiful singing - and this is so important for such an arduous role, which demands the aristocratic schooling that was later associated with the great Donizetti and Verdi baritones, in the lineage of Luna - Westman is especially emotionally involved while displaying great vocal panache.”

-Philippe Ponthir, Forum Opéra

“James Westman’s singing of the title role is excellent - both urgent and refined.”

-Dominic McHugh, Musical Criticism

“James Westman forcefully conveys the fanaticism behind Corrado's principled nobility.”

-Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Minnesota Opera

"James Westman Figaro had all the requisite fun loving flamboyance"

-Ron Hubbard, Pioneer Press

"Westman"s first attempt at the demanding role proved as adept at comedy as at singing. As Figaro James Westman offered a big resonant bass-baritone  that never faltered, His charm and charisma were apparent at all times"

-Michael Anthony, Star Tribune

“James Westman's Figaro had all of the requisite fun-loving flamboyance”

-Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press

“As Figaro, James Westman offered a big, resonant baritone that never faltered. Westman's charm and charisma were apparent at all times”

-Michael Anthony, Star Tribune

Madama Butterfly, Chicago Lryic Opera

"In his Lyric debut James Westman delivered a sympathetic Sharpless"

-Chicago Tribune, John Von Rhein

"The Canadian Baritone was a wonderful U.S. Consul Sharpless"

-Daily Herald, Bill Gowan

"The baritone James Westman was a sympathetic consul. Mr. Westman interacted emphatically with Lopardo and Racette and was particularly moving in his third act trio, his clear sound and articulation enhanced his performance greatly"

-Seen and Heard International, Zychowicz

"Baritone James Westman was a fine Sharpless, he sang with plenty of warmth and fine legato"

-Concerto.net, Paul Wooley

“James Westman made a successful Lyric debut with his warmly vocalized Sharpless, though his giddily ebullient approach to the character rather suggested Dr. Malatesta; by Act III the baritone had settled in with more gravitas, joining Lopardo and fellow debutante Katharine Goeldner's plangent Suzuki for an excellent account of the trio.”

-Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News

“The baritone James Westman was a sympathetic Sharpless, whose acting suggested a knowledgeable consul, wary of the dangers of treating Cio-Cio-San as merely ‘a Japanese wife’, the designation that sets the tragedy into motion. Mr Westman interacted empathically with both Lopardo and Racette, and was particularly moving in the third-act trio ‘Io so che alle sue pene’ with Pinkerton and Suzuki, his clear sound and articulation enhancing his performance.”

-James L. Zychowycz, Seen and Heard

“Baritone James Westman sang with plenty of warmth and fine legato.”

-Paul Wooley, ConcertoNet

“James Westman's barely suppressed fury in the final scene was moving.”

-Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times

“Canadian baritone James Westman a wonderful U.S. consul Sharpless.”

-Bill Gowen, Chicago Daily Herald

The Count in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Lyra

“James Westman, who was extremely dramatic, was perfectly credible in the role of the Count.  Whatever lack of seduction he put in his timbre was used to great effect in moments of anger, especially in a ‘Vedrò mentr’io sospiro’ filled with rage.”

-Réal Boucher, Forum Opera

Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Opéra de Montréal

“Canadian baritone James Westman's Sharpless was sympathetic, and he sang with the deep dark reassuring sound that makes this character so attractive.”

-Jim Lowe, Times Argus

Bonifacio in the Opera Rara Recording of Imelda de’ Lambertazzi

This opera is written primarily for the male voice, the title role being the only part for the female voice (excluding Chorus) and the first act has a lot of swagger and challenge from the warring factions, my favorite being the baritone hero Bonifacio, James Westman. At the time of writing Imelda the most famous singer avilable at the San Carlo was the superb Antonio Tamburini so Donizetti wrote the most florid parts for Bonifacio (most unusual) and Westman is more than capable of stepping into the great man's shoes. He handles the coloratura beautifully with a very dramatically sound and sumptuous instrument and is well matched with Nicole Cabell as Imelda.

-Lorenzo Moog

“Canadian baritone (and former boy treble) James Westman brings a hefty, warmly attractive sound, along with impeccable musicianship and richly detailed character, to the role of Bonifacio Gieremei.”

-Judith Malafronte, Opera News

“In Act 2, James Westman is alternately plangent and bellicose during his lament for lost love.”

-Warren Keith Wright, Opera Magazine

Madama Butterfly, Opéra de Montréal

“Canadian baritone James Westman's Sharpless was sympathetic, and he sang with the deep dark reassuring sound that makes this character so attractive.”

-Jim Lowe, Times Argus

"A fine artistic contribution to the production is James Westman whose rich baritone voice is well suited to his role as Sharpless"

-Southwest Star

Detroit, Margaret Garner

"Baritone James Westman offers a credible and vocally assured portrait as Edward Gaines, the nouveau-riche slave owner torn between his manifest right and the moral corrections of his daughter."

-Larry Johnson, The Detroit News

Chicago, Margaret Garner

'James Westman was a melodramatically villainous bass as Gaines'

-Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times

'Canadian baritone James Westman managed to swagger without turning slave owner Edward Gaines into a caricature'

-Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun Times

Montreal Opera, Madama Butterfly

"le baryton canadien James Westman, figure compatissante et paternelle en Sharpless"

-La scene'

"Canadian baritone James Westman proved an able actor"

-Arthur Kaptainis, Gazette

'Canadian baritone James Westman's Sharpless was sympathetic, and he sang with the deep dark reassuring sound that makes this character so attractive'

-Jim Lowe, Times Argus Staff

L'elisir D'amore Boston Lyric Opera

"James Westman inhabited his character (belcore) with dramatic flair and good comic instincts"

-Boston Globe,Jeremy Eichler

Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera with the Bordeaux Opera

“James Westman starts out as an introvert (but his aria “Alla vita che t’arride” gives him very little to work with), then opens up once he discovers the extent of his woes.  His singing goes from rage to despair in the Act II finale and finds its logical conclusion in “Eri tu”, which - as it tells more about him as a lover than as a husband – shows the true suffering of the man behind the bite and the metal in the voice.”

-Christophe Rizoud, Forum Opéra