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. Highlights of the 2021/22 season include Monterone Rigoletto for Opera North, and Porgy Porgy and Bess and Bluebeard Bluebeard’s Castle for Hungarian State Opera.
Recent highlights include his house debut of Seneca L'Incoronazione di Poppea at the Wiener Staatsoper, Jupiter Orpheus in the Underworld at English National Opera, Luther and Crespel Les contes d'Hoffmann at La Monnaie, Trinity Moses Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Gorjantchikov From the House of the Dead at Opera National de Paris, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Monnaie and Opéra National de Lyon, Thibaut d'Arc The Maid of Orleans at Theater an der Wien, Créon Médée at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Publio La clemenza di Tito for Dutch National Opera, Cadmus The Bassarids at the Salzburg Festival, Commendatore Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Cunning little Vixen with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, Schigolch Lulu at English National Opera and for Rome Opera, Doktor Wozzeck for Dutch National Opera, Publio La Clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival, for Rome Opera and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Arkel Pelléas et Mélisande with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Metropolitan Opera.
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 and Cleveland orchestras 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. Highlights include Tiresias and Messenger Oedipus Rex with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, 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.