Saturday, March 03, 2007

Willard White - One Of The World's Great Bass Singers

Knighthood For Opera Star White

Willard White, one of the world's great bass singers, has received a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Jamaica-born Sir Willard White, 57, has sung in some of the great opera houses of the world and performed with many of the world's most celebrated symphony orchestras.

Often compared to US singer Paul Robeson, whom he honours in his repertoire, Sir Willard began his professional career in 1974, making his debut with New York City Opera as Colline in La Boheme.

Two years later he made his London opera debut with English National Opera as Seneca in Monteverdi's 'L'Incoronazione di Poppea.

In 1982 he sang the King in Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges at Glyndebourne.

His large repertoire also includes bass-baritone roles in operas by Handel, Mozart and Gershwin.

He has worked with the London Philharmonic, La Scala Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has compelling dramatic skills.

His ability as an actor was especially noted in Porgy and Bess at Glyndebourne in 1986. He then won strong reviews starring in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Othello.

He appeared as the soloist at The Last Night of the Proms in 1999, 2000 and at the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome.

In many people's minds, his most outstanding role is as Mephistopheles in The Damnation of Faust, which he has sung many times.

Sir Willard studied at the Jamaican School of Music and Juilliard in New York, and says his upbringing in Jamaica influenced his way of thinking.


His parents, while not musical, gave him huge moral support in his career, even though it meant him leaving the island to train in New York.

He is a deeply philosophical and spiritual man, with a series of instantly quotable instances of his worldview.

"In all spheres of life it is very important for people with experience to assist those with less," he says.

"I say follow your heart and believe in what you do but always be prepared to adapt from day to day.

"Every man and woman has a place in this world and the right to be in that place.

"I believe in God but not a conventional God. I believe in a wonderful force around our lives, in our lives, in the midst of lives and in the midst of our bodies."

A father of seven children, he lives in London. In 1995 he was awarded a CBE.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/06/12 08:02:16 GMT

Special thanks to:

See You in Jamaica


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