David Wilson-Johnson

Voice/Instrument: Bass-baritone


Born: November 16, 1950 - Northampton, England

The English bass-baritone, David Wilson-Johnson, read modern languages at Cambridge, and studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

An exceptionally versatile artist with a wide-ranging repertoire, he has carved out a formidable international reputation. He sings with the all the major British orchestras and Festivals, broadcasts frequently for BBC radio and television, and is a regular soloist at the BBC Promenade Concerts. He has appeared in concert throughout Europe and America, including the Salzburg and Flanders Festivals, the Vienna Musikverein with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, in Munich with Zubin Mehta and Carlo Maria Giulini, in Madrid with Carlo Maria Giulini, with the Cleveland Orchestra under Dohnanyi, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under Tate, the Royal Concertgebouw under Dutoit, the European Community Youth Orchestra under Rostropovitch, the Berlin Radio Symphony under John Nelson, the Houston Symphony under Robert Shaw, the Ensemble Intercontemporain under Boulez, and the New York Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Masur.

At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he has sung in Le Rossignol, L'Enfant et les Sortilèges, Boris Godunov, Turandot, Billy Budd and Die Zauberflöte. He has also appeared with the Geneva Opera (Peter Grimes and Billy Budd), English National Opera (Billy Budd), the Paris Opera (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Die Zauberflöte). In Paris he also took part in Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King (which led to an extensive association with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain). He took part in Thames Television's film of Tippett's A Midsummer Marriage in the role of King Fisher, and in 1988, to mark the 80th birthday of Olivier Messiaen, sang the title role in that composer's St. Francis of Assisi in London and France, winning the London Evening Standard Opera Award. In 1992 he made his debut at the Teatro Regio, Turin, as Mephistopheles in Ronconi's new production of La Damnation de Faust and in 1993 he made his debut with Netherlands Opera in Birtwistle's Punch and Judy under Oliver Knussen, returning last season for new productions of Arnold Schoenberg's Die Glückliche Hand and Von Heute auf Morgen.

David Wilson-Johnson is an accomplished recitalist and has toured the UK with performances of Schubert's 'Winterreise' accompanied by David Owen Norris on an 1824 Broadwood piano. Their recording of the work for Hyperion met with considerable critical acclaim. David Wilson-Johnson's recordings include the award-winning King Priam and Punch and Judy. For EMI, he took part in new recordings of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, L'enfance du Christ (Berlioz), The Fairy Queen (Purcell) under Roger Norrington, and Peter Grimes under Haitink; for Sony he has recorded J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) under Carlo Maria Giulini, for Philips Bach cantatas under Gustav Leonhardt, and for Deutsche Grammophon Igor Stravinsky and A. Schoenberg under Knussen.

His 1995-1996 concert season included appearances with the major British orchestras, a return to the Cleveland and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestras and concerts with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and the Orchestra della Toscana. In addition to his busy concert and recording career, his operatic engagements take him to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (new productions of Palestrina and the Goehr/Monteverdi Arianna, and Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte), the Paris Opera (Billy Budd) and the Netherlands Opera (Shostakovich The Nose) and he returns to the Aldeburgh Festival with Oliver Knussen and to the Edinburgh Festival. 

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