One of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years, Sir Willard White’s 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 Schigolch in William Kentridge’s new production of Lulu at English National Opera and for Rome Opera, Doktor Wozzeck for Dutch National Opera, Shaman The Indian Queen on a European tour with Teodor Currentzis, Creon, Tiresias and Messenger Oedipus Rex with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, and a return to the Salzburg Festival in summer 2017 for Publio La Clemenza di Tito. In future seasons White will return to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opera and to La Monnaie. Recent highlights include Trinity Moses Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny for Rome Opera and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Arkel Pelléas et Mélisande with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Metropolitan Opera, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Ibn-Hakia Iolanta for Lyon Opera and the Festival d’Aix en Provence, Vodnik Rusalka for Scottish Opera, Commendatore Don Giovanni at La Monnaie, Wotan Das Rheingold with the Mariinsky Theatre, Klingsor Parsifal, Pope Clement VII Benvenuto Cellini for English National Opera, Hercules Alceste at the Teatro Real, Priest in the world premiere of Jörg Widmann’s Babylon at the Bayerische Staatsoper, and Gorianchikov 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, 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, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, The Hallé, Royal Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland orchestras, and 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 La Damnation de Faust with the Cleveland Orchestra and at the Verbier Festival with Charles Dutoit; Golaud Pélleas et Mélisande with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Bluebeard’s Castle with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, Marke Tristan & 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.