Sir Willard White
SIR WILLARD WHITE is one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years, and his illustrious career has taken him to the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, collaborating with conductors, directors and orchestras of the highest calibre.
Highlights this season include Trinity Moses in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny for Rome Opera, Arkel in Pelléas et Mélisande with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ibn-Hakia in Iolanta for Lyon Opera, and Vodnik in Rusalka for Scottish Opera. In future seasons, White returns to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Dutch National Opera, and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Recent highlights include Commendatore in Don Giovanni at La Monnaie; Wotan in Das Rheingold with the Mariinsky Theatre on tour; Trinity Moses in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny and Klingsor in Parsifal at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Ibn-Hakia in Iolanta at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Pope Clement VII in Benvenuto Cellini for English National Opera; Hercules in Alceste at the Teatro Real; Priest in the world premiere of Jörg Widmann’s Babylon at the Bayerische Staatsoper; Tannhäuser at the Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen; Arkel in Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera, New York; and Gorianchikov in From the House of the Dead at the Berliner Staatsoper with Sir Simon Rattle.
Sir Willard White was born in Jamaica, where he commenced his musical training at the Jamaican School of Music and then went on to the Juilliard School in New York. Since his operatic debut with the New York City Opera in 1974, he has sung regularly at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Madrid, and Paris, and at the Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, and Salzburg festivals. In 1989, White performed the role of Othello in Trevor Nunn’s production for the Royal Shakespeare Company, alongside Sir Ian McKellen as Iago and Imogen Stubbs as Desdemona.
On the concert platform, White sings regularly with the world’s major conductors and orchestras, including the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Hallé Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, La Scala, the Boston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and he has appeared as soloist many times at the BBC Proms, including the First and Last Night of the Proms and at the Proms in the Park. He has most recently performed Méphistophélès in La Damnation de Faust with the Cleveland Orchestra and at the Verbier Festival with Charles Dutoit; Golaud in Pélleas et Mélisande with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Bluebeard’s Castle with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall; Marke in Tristan und Isolde Act II under Gergiev; a concert performance of Pélleas et Mélisande and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle; and Bluebeard’s Castle with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Sir Willard White was awarded the CBE in 1995 and was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2004. He is currently President of the Royal Northern College of Music, having succeeded the Duchess of Kent in this role.