"What a voice!" Crescendo & Jazz Music
Willard White was born in Kingston, 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 making his debut with the New York City Opera he has sung in the Opera Houses of San Francisco, London - both the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and English National Opera - Munich, Amsterdam, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, Los Angeles, Brussels and at the Glyndebourne, Aix en Provence and Salzburg Festivals.
His performances include Golaud in Pelléas and Mélisande in Amsterdam and San Francisco, Faust at the Bastille, Nick Shadow in the Peter Sellars productions of The Rake's Progress and Oedipus Rex at the Chatelet, Mephistopheles in David Alden's production of La Damnation de Faust, the title-role in Stein Winge's production of The Flying Dutchman for English National Opera, Nekrotzar/Le Grand Macabre at the Salzburg Festival and at the Chatelet in Paris, the title-role Boris Godunov for Welsh National Opera, the world première of John Adams's opera El Nino at the Chatelet, with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in San Francisco, with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester in Berlin under Kent Nagano, and in Los Angeles, New York and London.
He sang the title-role in Messiaen's St. Francois d'Assise in San Francisco and appeared as the soloist at the Last Night of the Proms and in the Proms in the Park, and in the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome in London. Engagements last season included Kutuzow/War & Peace with English National Opera at the BBC Proms, Nekrotzar/Le Grand Macabre with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, Mephistopheles/La Damnation de Faust with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Berlin, with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, and at the RUHR Triennale Festival, the Four Villains/Les Contes d'Hoffmann for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Moses/Moses und Aron at the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin, the Water-Sprite/Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and concerts and recitals in Europe and the USA.
Willard White's large repertoire includes the bass-baritone roles in operas by Bartok, Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Debussy, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev and Gershwin. His regular concert appearances include working with London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, La Scala Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestras and he is much in demand as a recitalist. His concert programme "An Evening with Willard White - a Tribute to Paul Robeson," performed with a small group of versatile musicians and linking narrator, continues to be a huge success at Festivals, has been shown on BBC television and has now been released on Linn Records (Linn AKD 218).
Engagements in the 2004/05 season included Wotan in Das Rheingold conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the BBC Proms and in Baden-Baden, Fotis in The Greek Passion for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and in Brno, Nekrotzar in Le Grand Macabre for San Francisco Opera, Mephistopheles in La Damnation de Faust conducted by Charles Dutoit with the Atalanta Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras, On the Town for English National Opera, Tchélio in The Love for Three Oranges for the Netherlands Opera and many concerts and recitals.
Willard White was awarded the CBE in 1995 and he was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2004.