Part Two: The World of Bravissimo…with James Westman

2013 would not be complete without my last interview of the year – shining the spotlight on Canadian baritone James Westman. Starting off his career as a former boy treble, Westman  has performed the leading roles of Verdi, Puccini, Massenet, Donizetti, Janacek, Bizet, Britten and Mozart for many principal Opera houses in North America and Europe.


Photo: Rob Harris

This evening, he will perform with the rest of the stellar Bravissimo cast at Roy Thomson Hall and if you’re not going, well, you should be. Schedules have been very tight but I was lucky enough to hear what the talented baritone has been up and what is in store for 2014.

1. I believe this is your first time performing for Bravissimo – what drew you to this particular performance?

I met Attila Glatz at Roy Thompson Hall’s Pops concert last year, where he graciously asked me to sing for his New Year’s Eve concert.  It is amazing the work he does to promote such fine music throughout North America and Europe. It is a thrill to be a part of such an exciting concert!

2. When performing so many opera favourites, how do you prepare yourself when you need to change characters quite a few times in a span of just a few hours?

We have many different operas represented in this gala and I have to change characters very quickly! A quick mind set in my dressing room is all I get! A challenge yet also a reward.

3. If you could sit down with any composer, singer or musician, who would it be and why?

My two favourite composers are Verdi and Mahler! I would love to have a cup of tea with them! Mahler was such a significant part of my early musical development as a child. Verdi, I relate to, now later in my career, especially in the physiological characters in Verdi’s father roles. Two completely different composers yet such a part of my artistry.

4. The ladies always get this question but I will throw it over to you as well – how do you put together your costumes and ensembles for performances?

Of course men’s outfits are rather boring just wearing tails! However, I am excited to be talking with Rosemarie Umetsu about next season. I am collaborating with her on something different for my New York Philharmonic performance next year and some other galas!

5. What can we expect from you in the coming year?

Next year will be a very rewarding year, singing with the New York Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Ottawa Lyric Opera, Utah Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company. I am also excited about the recording release of Bramwell Tovey’s Opera “The Inventor”, in the title role of Sandy Keith.  Next summer I will be working on a cd comprised of Canadian songs by Glick, Beckwith and Holman, recorded at the Wilfrid Laurier University, where I am currently a professor of voice and opera.

For more information on upcoming concerts, please visit