Canadian baritone James Westman made his debut with Pacific Opera Victoria as the Gamekeeper in the 2005 production of The Cunning Little Vixen, returning in 2010 for his role debut as the Count in Richard Strauss' Capriccio. In 2015 he portrayed Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor. In 2019 he returns to Pacific Opera to perform his signature role of Germont in La traviata, following acclaimed performances in the role for Manitoba Opera and Edmonton Opera, partners in this historic five-company Canadian co-production of Verdi's masterpiece.
Whether performing song, concert or opera throughout the world, baritone James Westman brings an extra dimension to his performances with his passion and musicianship.
His 2018/19 season includes the title roles in Verdi's Rigoletto (L'Opéra de Montréal) and Nabucco (Opera de Québec), Elijah (Calgary Philharmonic), as well as Britten's War Requiem (Colorado Symphony and National Arts Centre Orchestra) and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Vancouver Symphony). He recently appeared for the Wexford Festival, Utah Opera, St. Louis Symphony and scored a personal triumph as Sir John A MacDonald in Louis Riel in Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec, in a Canadian Opera Company production celebrating Canada's Sesquicentennial.
Nominated for two Grammy awards and three Juno awards, Westman has recorded for Decca, Opera Rara, CBC and BBC. Though widely regarded as an ideal exponent of the Verdi baritone roles, he has also been hailed for leading roles in the works of Puccini, Massenet, Donizetti, Janáček, Bizet, Britten and Mozart for many of the principal opera houses in North America and Europe, including Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vancouver Opera, English National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Dallas Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Wexford Festival (Ireland), the opera houses of Graz, Cologne and many more.
Mr. Westman thrives at art song repertoire in many different styles and genres. He has preformed recitals for the Marilyn Horne Foundation, the George London Foundation, the Aldeburgh Connection, the Canadian Arts and Letters Club, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Stratford Summer Music Festival, the Schawbacher Debut Recital Series, the Michigan Chamber Music Society, the Lanaudière Festival, Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, and the Wexford Festival.
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, 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 Roméo 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 was Baritone in Residence with the prestigious San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship program until March 2000. His critically acclaimed performances at the San Francisco Opera include Guglielmo (Così tan tutte); Marcello (La bohème); Sylvio (Pagliacci); Germont (La traviata); Renato (Un ballo in maschera) and Sid (Albert Herring). 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), Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques (1996), the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation (1999) and Marilyn Horne Foundation Award (1999). In June of 1999 he was a finalist and the audience favorite at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Formerly a successful boy treble, Mr. Westman toured with the American Boys Choir, the Paris Boys Choir and the Vienna Boys Choir. Known as Jamie Westman, he was the first boy ever to perform the fourth movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, (Child's View of Heaven) and toured this work with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East and West Germany and Russia, performing in the Musikverein, Roy Thomson Hall and Carnegie Hall at the age of twelve.
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.
Mr. Westman lives with his wife Nadine (Dini) and their two sons Liam and Hardy by the Avon in Stratford, Ontario, close to the Westmans' and Marshall/Levy heritage farms which have been in his family since the 1700’s.
The night, however, belonged to baritone James Westman and his standout performance of Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father. Westman has considerable longevity with this role; he will play Germont for the 200th time in the spring of 2019 in a celebrated career that has spanned two decades. Westman’s familiarity with the role results in a multi-layered portrayal of a man whose concern for his family’s reputation upends the romance at the heart of La traviata.
Oliver Munar, Schmopera, review of La traviata at Edmonton Opera, October 2018 (co-production with Pacific Opera, Manitoba Opera, Opére de Montréal, and Vancouver Opera)
Dashing baritone James Westman, sang the part of the "un-musical"; Count with fluid charm.
Elizabeth Paterson, Review Vancouver, Review of Pacific Opera Victoria's Capriccio
But perhaps most impressive of all is baritone James Westman as Giorgio Germont ... The emotional journey he takes in the course of a single aria is remarkable to witness.
Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune, Review of Utah Opera's La traviata