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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Described as “a magnetic presence” (Opera Magazine) and “a consistent scene stealer” (The New York Times), tenor, James Way is fast gaining international recognition for the versatility of his voice and commanding stage presence. His recording of Purcell King Arthur with the Gabrieli Consort was named recording of the year by BBC Music Magazine as well as winning the Opera category. James was winner of the 2nd Prize in the 62nd Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall. James studied music and was a choral scholar at King’s College London before continuing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he learnt with Susan Waters. He is a former Britten-Pears Young Artist, a laureate of both the 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 selected to participate in Barbara Hannigan's inaugural Equilibrium Young Artists Programme.

A highly versatile performer, James is increasingly in demand on the concert platform in appearances spanning the breadth of the repertoire from the baroque to the present day with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic and L’Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. His regular appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra have included the European premiere of Ross Harris FACE, Berlioz Les nuits d'été, works by Lili Boulanger, and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music at the Last Night of the Proms.

James’ love of baroque music has seen him appear with many of the finest early music ensembles across Europe, with highlights including Handel Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Tempo) with the Freiburger Barockorchester under René Jacobs; Handel Samson (title role) with John Butt and the Dunedin Consort; Monteverdi Vespers with Laurence Cummings and the English Concert for Garsington Opera; and Acis & Galatea (Acis) with Les Arts Florissants; as well as Messiah tours with Trevor Pinnock and the FBO, and with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants.

Opera credits include his debuts with Staatsoper Berlin in Purcell King Arthur (AKAMUS and René Jacobs) and with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša as the Holy Fool Boris Godunov at the Royal Festival Hall; Lechmere Owen Wingrave for Grange Park Opera, Sellem in a worldwide tour of The Rake’s Progress under the baton of Barbara Hannigan; Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Tempo) for Opéra national de Montpellier under Thibault Noally; the Young King in George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence at St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre; the Ballad Singer Owen Wingrave for the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh International Festivals c. Mark Wigglesworth and Davy in Roxanna Panufnik’s new opera Silver Birch for Garsington Opera. Future engagements include a return to Berlin Staatsoper and his house debut for Zurich Opera.

His recent performances include Academy of St Martin in the Fields (Messiah), Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Stravinsky Pulcinella), and Grange Park Opera (Lechmere Owen Wingrave); Handel’s Solomon (excerpts), Foundling Anthem with the English Concert and Harry Bicket, Handel and Hayden Society Boston (Messiah) with Harry Christophers and the Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano (Stravinsky Pulcinella).

2021/2022 dates include a recording and European tour of Handel L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie. James will also be appearing as First witch & sailor Dido & Aeneas at Berlin Staatsoper and Ludwigsburder Schlossfestspiele and as Damon Acis & Galatea with London Handel Festival. Next season James makes his debut at Opernhaus Zurich as Zotico in Cavalli's Eliogabalo.

James’ enjoys programming and collaborating on song projects and recently performed Wolf Italian Songbook with pianist Christopher Glynn and soloists including Rowan Pierce and Roderick Williams, appearing at the Lammermuir Festival, St George’s Hall Liverpool, St George’s Bristol and Wigmore Hall. Other recital engagements include Oxford Lieder, London Song Festival, Marylebone Festival and Newbury Festival (with the Schubert Ensemble) as well as curating projects for the Devon Song Festival and SongSpiel.

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

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

STRAVINSKY The Rake’s Progress

Ojai Music Festival (June 2019)

With a natural command of the stage, James Way, a tenor with a delicate voice, was a consistent scene stealer. As the auctioneer Sellem in The Rake’s Progress, his mania was skillfully vaudevillian; similarly eccentric were his Noël Coward-esque segments of Façade. When he returned, in the final concert, in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, his voice was lush and nimble, balancing the sound worlds of 18th-century Pergolesi and 20th-century neoclassicism.

Joshua Barone, The New York Times

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

...the humour and wit of the tenor James Way in Stravinsky’s delicious Cubist-Italian-Baroque ballet Pulcinella was especially winning.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

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