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*Willard White was born on this date in 1946. He is a Black Jamaican classical vocalist.
He was born into a poor but supportive family in Kingston. His father was a dockworker, and his mother a housewife. White first began to learn music by listening to the radio and singing Nat King Cole songs. Singer and activist Paul Robeson also inspired him. He was a founding member of the Jamaica Folk Singers, sang with the Jamaica Amateur Operatic Society and trained at the Jamaican School of Music, and then went on to the Julliard 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, Khovanschina in Brussels, Faust at the Bastille, and Nick Shadow in the Peter Sellars productions of The Rake's Progress.
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 the Chatelet in Paris, the title-role Boris Godunov for Welsh National Opera, Nick Shadow at the Netherlands Opera and Parsifal at the Bastille. He appeared as the soloist at the Last Night of the Proms in 1999, Proms in the Park on the Last night of the Proms in 2000, and in the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome in London.
Previous appearances included the Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the world première of John Adams's opera El Nino at the Chatelet in Paris, with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in San Francisco, and with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester in Berlin.
Turandot for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Falstaff at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Don Carlos at the Orange Festival. White's large repertoire includes the bass-baritone roles in operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Debussy, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Gershwin.
His 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 program "An Evening with Willard White - a tribute to Paul Robeson," performed with a small group of versatile musicians, continues to be a huge success at festivals throughout the UK and will shortly be issued on CD.
Recent engagements include Rigoletto at the Bastille, Kutuzov in the new production of War and Peace for the English National Opera, Parsifal and Bluebeard's Castle for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Beethoven Choral Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sir Simon Rattle, Falstaff at the Théâtre du Champs Elysées, as well as recitals and concerts throughout Europe and in the U.S.A.
White appeared as Porgy in the television film Porgy & Bess and Shakespeare's Othello with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and this acclaimed performance was also filmed for television. His recordings include oratorios, operas, and recitals. Willard White is one of the world's great basses, known for his enormous rich voice and powerful stage presence.