James Way


"It was the tenor James Way who took the breath away, however, with his immaculate tonal control and the astonishing maturity of his musicianship."

Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

"Tenor James Way offered bravura passagework in a defiant and crisp ‘Thou Shalt Break Them’, and ... impressive mesa di voce in ‘Comfort ye’."

Benjamin Poore, Music OMH

"Of the cast we heard I would say she has picked three knockout performers... James Way as Sellem gave the auction scene more snap, crackle and pop than anyone else achieved."

Richard Morrison, The Times

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Tenor James Way is fast gaining international recognition for the versatility of his voice and commanding stage presence. A former Britten-Pears Young Artist, he is also a laureate of William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants ‘Jardin des Voix’ and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Rising Stars young artist programmes and was awarded an Independent Opera Voice Fellowship. James was the winner of the Second Prize in the 62nd Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall.

James' recent successes span from the concert platform to the opera stage, performing with ensembles such as BBC Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society Boston, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano and L’Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and in the Baroque world with the Freiburger Barockorchester under René Jacobs, the English Concert, Les Arts Florissants and the English Concert as well as the title role in Samson with John Butt and the Dunedin Consort. James has appeared as Jupiter in Handel's Semele with the OAE, conducted by Christophe Rousset.

James has worked with conductors such as René Jacobs, Jakub Hrůša, Thibault Noally, Mark Wigglesworth, Alpesh Chauhan, Harry Bicket and Robin Ticciati. Since being selected for the inaugural Equilibrium Young Artists Programme, he has worked closely with Barbara Hannigan and has been widely praised for performances including Sellem in a worldwide tour of The Rake’s Progress.

Opera credits include The Son in Laurent Pelly's production of Les Mamelles de Tiresias at Glyndebourne Festival (winner of Best New Opera Production at the 2022 Opera Awards), productions of Dido & Aeneas and King Arthur at Staatsoper Berlin, Holy Fool Boris Godunov at the Royal Festival Hall, Lechmere Owen Wingrave for Grange Park Opera, Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Tempo) for Opéra national de Montpellier, the Young King in George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence at St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre and the Ballad Singer Owen Wingrave for the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh International Festivals.

The coming year will see the release of his recording of Handel L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie and the forthcoming recording of Stanford Requiem with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, on Hyperion. These will add to James' growing discography, which includes 'Songs of Faith, Love and Nonsense,' a disk of Stanford songs recorded with Roderick Williams and Andrew West, Purcell's Fairy Queen with Gabrieli Consort, conducted by Paul McCreesh and King Arthur, which won BBC Music Magazine's Recording of the Year.

James also directs his ensemble The Assembled Company with whom he has conducted Schütz A Christmas Story and most recently performed Handel 9 German Arias with Rachel Podger in a new English translation by Jeremy Sams at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Highlights of the upcoming seasons include Flute in Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne Festival, Lurcanio in Ariodante with Il Pomo d’Oro conducted by George Petrou, Valcour L'Amant anonyme for Glyndebourne on Tour, and concerts including Bach St Matthew Passions with Les Talens Lyriques under Christophe Rousset and as the Evangelist with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Peter Whelan, Pulcinella with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Barbara Hannigan, and Zadok in a tour of Handel’s Solomon with the English Concert and Harry Bicket, culminating in a performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Solomon (Zadok)

The English Concert, US and European tour, March 2023

In this performance by the open, frank voice of tenor James Way [...] one felt one’s scepticism dropping away.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

It was set alight here in the very first aria by the tenor James Way, whose delivery, combining animation and nuance, is that of a true Handelian.

Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

[The] superlative James Way (Zadok), another one in that endless quarry of magnificent baroque tenors that is the United Kingdom. Way was, without a doubt, the soloist who stood out the most, especially in the third act aria Golden columns, fair and bright , in which the priest Zadok extols the greatness and beauty of the temple ordered to be erected by Solomon.

(translated from Spanish)

Eduardo Torrico, Scherzo

The role was elegantly performed by tenor James Way.

Nicholas Jones, San Francisco Classical Voice

Only the tenor role of Zadok the Priest is heavy on ornamentation, handled gamely [...] on Sunday by James Way.

Zachary Woolfe, New York Times

HANDEL L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

Les Arts Florissants, European Tour (March 2022)

None was livelier than the tenor James Way. Usually presenting the cheerful point of view, he put his bright mark on every note and syllable, even when the syllables formed phrases such as “Stygian”, “Cerberus”, or “Jonson’s learned sock”.

Geoff Brown, The Times

…a team of outstanding soloists…

Barry Millington, Evening Standard

Tenor James Way was a strong presence throughout, singing with good tone, a relish for the text, and an athletic coloratura. In “Haste thee, nymph”, he sang its final line of “laughter holding both his sides”, which Handel sets as “ho-ho-ho-ho-holding”, with shoulder-shaking jollity.

Roy Westbrook, bachtrack

"L’Anglais James Way, de son côté, souligne l’importance du Jardin des Voix, qui dit-il « est indubitablement un programme qui alimente la passion d’interpréter la musique baroque ». Et cela se sent, autant dans sa manière de projeter le son que dans son articulation parfaite. Bref, un interprète qui a trouvé sa voie aussi bien dans ce genre musical que dans Bach et Britten, aussi à l’aise dans l’humour que dans le sentiment."

"The Englishman James Way, for his part, stresses the importance of the Garden of Voices, which he says "is undoubtedly a program that feeds the passion to interpret baroque music". And this is felt, as much in his way of projecting the sound as in his perfect articulation. In short, a performer who has found his way as well in this musical genre as in Bach and Britten, as comfortable in humor as in feeling."

Jean-Marcel Humbert, Forum Opera

HANDEL L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

Les Arts Florissants, European Tour (December 2021)

Handel wrote colourful songs for the tenor, which James Way played with sharp articulation.

Franz Straatman, Opera Magazine.nl

You and the tenor should laugh - also true to the premiere - to the aria "Haste thee, nymph" L'Allegros, in which it actually shook you heartily, just like James Way, with the playful, relaxed, fluid and mischievous lightness of being. Also contagious is his mischievous, clear, winning laissez-faire, which adapts to all counter-arguments, and his dictated, playful plunge into pleasure, to which the choir with its casual or festively strengthened savoir chanter jumped.

Jens Klier, Bachtrack

Among newcomers, the tenor James Way has a powerful and well-placed organ, and above all an extremely clear and precise diction, thanks to which one does not lose a word of the text.

Pierre Degott, ResMusica

BRITTEN Owen Wingrave

Grange Park Opera – film (December 2020)

Tenor James Way shines youthfully as Owen’s friend Lechmere.

Mark Valencia, Bachtrack

James Way offers an innocent rather than brutish Lechmere, honeyed and boyish in tone.

Benjamin Poore, Opera Wire

… here [James Way’s] ardent tenor is just right for Lechmere’s impetuosity and over-enthusiasm, and he captures, too, both the immaturity and remorse that Lechmere displays in Act 2.

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

HANDEL Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno

Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier (February 2020)

James Way demonstrates expressive qualities in the role of Tempo and vocalises with ease …

Laurent Bury, Forum Opera

James Way is a bright Tempo … completely legitimate and convincing. The voice is very well carried and integrates easily with the whole.

Elodie Martinez, Opera Online

James Way’s Tempo is distinguished by a gallant clarity.

Gilles Charlassier, Toute La Culture

PURCELL King Arthur

Gabrieli Consort (October 2019)

Among the highlights [is] James Way’s How Blest Are Shepherds …

Hugh Canning, The Times

HANDEL Messiah

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra tour (December 2019)

The young tenor James Way … in turn tender, hushed and valiant.

Julian Sykes, Le Temps

HANDEL Messiah

Les Arts Florissants (October 2019)

Deliciously sung by James Way, the first aria ‘Ev’ry valley shall be exalted’ perfectly combines power and vocal transparency, with … intimate pianissimo. The aria ‘Thou shalt break them’ demonstrates stunning vocal precision, and the duet with counter-tenor ‘O death, where is thy sting’ … presents subtle and elegant phrasing.

Augustin Javel, Bachtrack

STRAVINSKY The Rake’s Progress

Aldeburgh Festival (September 2019)

....James Way, who seems to have surveyed the show and thought ‘Hmm…I reckon I can steal this’ – then proceeded to do so as the auctioneer Sellem by stirring dollops of knowing humour into a precise vocal focus. He was a magnetic presence.

Mark Valencia, Opera Magazine

STRAVINSKY The Rake’s Progress

Klarafestival, Brussels (August 2019)

James Way as Sellem … [was] impeccable.

Nicolas Blanmont, Opera

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