Legendary bass-baritone James Morris is world famous for his performances in opera, concert, recital, and recording. With a repertoire including works by Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Mozart, Gounod and Britten, Mr. Morris has performed in virtually every international opera house and has appeared with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Considered one of the greatest interpreters of the role of Wotan in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Mr. Morris has appeared in this role at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and many others. He is also highly acclaimed for the title role in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, as well as Scarpia in Tosca in the major houses of the United States and Europe.
Mr. Morris’ celebrated career at the Metropolitan Opera has included three complete cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, both recorded for television and available on DVD. He originated the role of John Claggart in the MET premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd and has repeated the role in each revival. Frequently performed roles at the MET include the title role in Der fliegende Holländer (new production), Scarpia in Tosca, The Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and the title roles in Don Giovanni and Boris Godunov.
Concert appearances have included performances with the world’s celebrated orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, London’s BBC Proms, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; the Chicago Symphony and several appearances at the Cincinnati May Festival. He has also appeared frequently in recitals in cities including Minneapolis, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.
Mr. Morris’s extensive discography includes two complete Ring cycles, one for Deutsche Grammophon under James Levine and one for EMI under Bernard Haitink, and other operas of Wagner, Offenbach, Mozart, Massenet, Verdi and Gounod. He has recorded operas by Donizetti, Puccini, Bellini and Thomas with Dame Joan Sutherland, and his orchestral recordings include Haydn’s Creation, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” and the Requiems by Mozart and Fauré. James Morris was nominated for the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in the ‘Best Opera Recording’ category for his performance in Thomas’ “Desire Under the Elms” with George Manahan conductor and the London Symphony on Naxos. He also holds a Grammy Award for his recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. A recording of arias by Verdi and Wagner by Mr. Morris is available on the Angel/EMI label.
Born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, James Morris studied at the Peabody Conservatory and studied with Rosa Ponselle. He continued his education at the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts where he studied with basso Nicola Moscona.
“Mr. Morris is Hans Sachs, one of Wagner’s finest creations, a modest shoemaker, a childless widower, a man revered in his town not just for his mastery of poetry and song, but also for his decency and insight into human relations. At the end, Mr. Morris received, rightly, the biggest ovation from the audience.”
- James Morris celebrates his 1000th Performance at Metropolitan Opera and returns to Colbert Artists!