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James Maddalena (Baritone)

Born: 1954 - Lynn, Massachusetts, USA

The American baritone, James Maddalena, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC).

James Maddalena made his debut in Rogers and Hammerstein medley with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1974. From 1974 has appeared in a complete cycle of Bach's cantatas at Emmanuel Church Boston, with Emmanuel Music conducted by Craig Smith. He was founder member of the Liederkreis Ensemble (Naumburg Award 1980).

James Maddalena commands a large and varied repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to contemporary opera. He first gained international recognition for his notable portrayal of the title role in the world premier of John Adams’ Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars at Houston Grand Opera (1987), followed by performances at Netherland Opera, the Edinburgh Festival (1988), Brooklyn Academy of Music, Washington Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Australia’s Adelaide Festival, and at the Chatelet in Paris. His association with John Adams continued in two more recent roles: the Captain in Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, which premiered at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels (1991) and received performances at the Opera de Lyon, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, San Francisco Opera, and at the Vienna Festival prior to being recorded by Nonesuch under Kent Nagano; and Jack Hubbard in Doctor Atomic for San Francisco Opera.

James Maddalena has appeared with many other leading opera companies in the USA and abroad: New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Atlanta Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Boston, Frankfurt Opera, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as well as with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Royal Scottish Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and London Symphony Orchestra.

James Maddalena's association with director Peter Sellars from 1981 includes the title role in Don Giovanni and leading roles in Georg Frideric Handel's Orlando (American Repertory Theatre, 1982), Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte (Castle Hill Festival, 1984), Haydn's Armida (New Hampshire Symphony, 1983), Giulio Cesare and the Brecht/Weill Kleine Mahagonny (Pepsico Summerfare, 1985). He was soloist in Messiah at Carnegie Hall 1984, with Banchello Musicale; sang the title role in the above mentioned world premieres of John Adams' Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. He has appeared as Mozart's Count in the Sellars version of Le Nozze di Figaro, seen at Purchase, New York and Papageno at Glyndebourne in 1990. Hew created Merlin in Tippett's New York at Houston 1989 and in the British premiere at Glyndebourne.

Besides Adams, he has collaborated with many contemporary composers, including John Harbison, Gunther Schuller, Elliot Goldenthal, Robert Moran, Domenic Argento, Marc Blitzstein, and Michael Tippett, among others. He sang the world premiere of Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk with Houston Grand Opera later heard at San Francisco Opera, a production that was recorded by Teldec under Donald Runnicles. He also sang the premiere of Stewart Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter at San Francisco Opera in 2008. In St. Louis, Maddalena sang Hobson in the premiere of David Carlson’s The Midnight Angel. He sang the role of Gideon March in Mark Adamo’s Little Women at the Houston Grand Opera and the premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Vietnam Oratorio Fire Water Paper with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, recorded for Sony Classical and followed by performances of the oratorio with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. And he gave the world premiere of J. Harbison’s Four Psalms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Engagements for James Maddalena during the 1999-2000 season included Madama Butterfly with New York City Opera, concert performances of Nixon in China with The Brooklyn Philharmonic, his return to The Houston Grand Opera for Little Women (which was taped for later telecast as part of the “Great Performances” series on PBS) and his debut with The English National Opera in a new production of Nixon in China. He also returned to The Spokane Bach Festival for the J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232), conducted by Gunther Schuller. Other recent commitments include Madama Butterfly with Boston Lyric Opera, Der Rosenkavalier, in which he sang his first Faninal at Opera Pacific, and the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with The Dayton Philharmonic.

In 2008, James Maddalena sang the title role in the premiere of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and in July, 2009 he made his Santa Fe Opera debut in the premiere Paul Moravec’s The Letter. Fall 2009 brought his return to New York City Opera as Mordecai in Weisgall’s Esther. He has been invited to return to Santa Fe in 2010 for the premiere of Lewis Spratlan’s Life is a Dream and in the fall (2010) will make his debut with the Opera de Monte-Carlo in the premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers.

An active concert artist, James Maddalena can be heard in repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach to Paul Hindemith. He has performed The Messiah with Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, P. Hindemith’s Requiem with Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santi Cecilia in Rome, the St. John Passion (BWV 245) in Turn, Italy, J. Harbison’s Words from Paterson with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Carmina Burana in Seville, Spain and Palermo, Italy. He sang Schubert’s Die Winterreise at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Robert Spano as accompanist and early in his career the complete cycle of Bach cantatas with Boston’s Emmanuel Music.

James Maddalena has recorded for Decca/London, BMG, Classical Catalyst, Nonesuch, Teldec, Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, and EMI. He can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Nixon In China (Nonesuch) and the Emmy Award-winning PBS telecast, now on DVD. His prolific recording catalogue also includes Le Nozze di Figaro as well as Cosi fan tutte which were directed by Peter Sellars and telecast nationally over PBS as well as throughout Europe and which were released by Decca/London Records on videocassette and laser disc; The Dracula Diary by Robert Moran on the BMG Classical Catalyst label; Regina for EMI (John Mauceri, conductor); Michael Tippett's New Year with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for BBC Television; Johannes Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, with Liederkreis; Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer.

Source: International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); California Artists Management (January 2010); LA Philharmonic Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2010)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Samuel Baron / Yehudi Wyner


BWV 156, BWV 211 [1st], BWV 211 [2nd], BWV 212
Selections from
BWV 7 [1994], BWV 97

Lorna Cooke deVaron


BWV 245

Wolfgang Sawallisch


BWV 245 [Jesus, Video]

Links to other Sites

James Maddalena - Baritone (California Artists Management)
James Maddalena - Baritone (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)

James Maddalena - About the Performer (LA Philharmonic)
James Maddalena (

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