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Sir Willard White


  • 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.

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  • 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, Oreste / Giove Il Giasone at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, 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.

    2016-17 season / 584 words. Not to be altered without permission.


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Season highlights

Trinity Moses Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny for Rome Opera

Arkel Pélleas et Mélisande with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen

Ibn-Hakia Iolanta for Lyon Opera

Vodnik Rusalka for Scottish Opera

Concert repertoire


Symphony No.9

American Salute (When Johnny comes marching home)

The Creation


Opera repertoire

Joseph El Niño

Bluebeard Bluebeard’s Castle

Don Fernando/Rocco Fidelio

Giorgio I Puritani
Oroveso Norma

Pope Clement VII Benvenuto Cellini
Mephistopheles La Damnation de Faust
Herod L’Enfance du Christ

Workman 1 On the Town

Bottom A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Creon Medea

Arkel Pelleas et Mélisande

Homeless Person Death of a Princess

Bluebeard Ariane et Barbe-Bleue

Wassermann (Vodnik) Rusalka

Porgy Porgy and Bess

Hercules Alceste

Mephistopheles Faust

Polyphemus Acis and Galatea
Somnus Semele

Title role El Cimarroni

Forester Cunning Little Vixen
Gorianchikov From the House of the Dead
Prus The Makropoulos Case

Ned Treemonisha

Porter Das Wunder der Heliane

Nekrotzar Le Grand Macabre

Fotis The Greek Passion

St. Francis Saint Françoise d’Assise

Seneca l’Incoronazione di Poppea

Osmin Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Speaker/Sarastro Die Zauberflöte
Commendatore Don Giovanni
Bartolo Le nozze di Figaro

Boris Boris Godunov
Pimen Boris Godunov
Khovansky Kovanshchina

4 Villains Les Contes d‘Hoffmann

Title role Ivan the Terrible
Tchélio The Love for Three Oranges
Kutuzow War and Peace

Timur Turandot

Title role Ivan the Terrible

Alidoro La Cenerentola
Mustapha L’Italiana in Algeri
Selim Turco in Italia

Moses Moses und Aron

Boris Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Jokanaan Salome

Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress
Tiresias / Creon Oedipus Rex

Gremin Eugene Onegin
Ibn-Hakia Iolanta

King/Ramfis Aida
Philip Don Carlos
Falstaff Falstaff
Ferrando Il Trovatore
Maximilian I Masnadieri
Banquo Macbeth
Zaccaria Nabucco
Sparafucile Rigoletto

Wotan/Alberich Das Rheingold
Dutchman / Daland Der Fliegende Holländer
Wotan /Hunding Die Walküre
Klingsor Parsifal
Landgraf Tannhäuser
King Marke Tristan und Isolde
Hagen Götterdämmerung

Trinity Moses The Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Priesterkönig/Tod Babylon

Simon Eine Florestinische Tragödie

Sir Willard White was tremendous as Wotan, bringing to the fore all of the thickness in his bass voice to produce a sound possessed of shimmering resonance.

MusicOMH, November 2014

What a joy it was to welcome the massively experienced Sir Willard White as Mephistopheles. His acting was a joy, and his voice as it’s best was miraculous

Seen and Heard International, May 2013

Pity anyone who appears on the same platform as baritone Willard White. He has so much presence he can eclipse an entire symphony orchestra and chorus with a mere twitch of an eyebrow.

Guardian, September 2009

Intermusica represents Sir Willard White worldwide

Julia Maynard
Director / Head of Vocal & Opera
+44 20 7608 9902

Eleanor Freedman
Artist Manager, Vocal & Opera
+44 20 7608 9907

Isla Mundell-Perkins
Associate Manager, Vocal & Opera
+44 20 7608 9915

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Rupert Enticknap

Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles