James King

Picture of james King
Born in Dodge City, Kansas, King studied music at Louisiana State University and earned a master's degree in 1952 from Kansas City University. He started singing as a baritone, but noticed in 1955 that his range was more that of a tenor. He retrained himself as a tenor and won the American Opera Auditions in Cincinnati in 1961.

He made his debut as José with the San Francisco Opera. He sang the French and Italian repertoire with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1962 to 1965 and worldwide at most of the major opera houses, being a particular favorite at the Vienna State Opera, where he last appeared as Florestan in Beethoven's Fidelio, in 1997.

He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1966. He sang at all the major opera houses in Europe and America and recorded extensively. One of his most famous recordings, however, was not in opera, but rather that of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, recorded with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. His baritone partner in that recording was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. (He also recorded it with Janet Baker under Bernard Haitink.) Interestingly, King and Fischer-Dieskau were born within six days from each other in May 1925 – King on the 22nd, Fischer-Dieskau on the 28th.

A small selection of King's other recordings include: Die Walküre (with Birgit Nilsson and Hans Hotter, conducted by Georg Solti, 1965); Tosca (excerpts in German, opposite Anja Silja, conducted by Lorin Maazel, 1966); Ariadne auf Naxos (1968); Fidelio (1969); Lohengrin (1971); Madama Butterfly (with Maria Chiara, 1972); Samson et Dalila (1973); Die Frau ohne Schatten (1977); Mathis der Maler (with Fischer-Dieskau and William Cochran, 1979); Franz Schmidt's Notre Dame (1988); and, from the Bayreuth Festival, Die Walküre (with Nilsson and Theo Adam, 1967) and Parsifal (with Dame Gwyneth Jones, conducted by Pierre Boulez, 1970).

He taught at Indiana University from 1984 to 2003 and died on November 20th, 2005 in Naples, Florida.

James King sings Die tote Stadt: O Freund, ich werde sie nicht wiedersehn, with William Murray

James King sings Manon Lescaut: Donna non vidi mai
In RA format

James King sings Daphne: Zu dir nun, Knabe!, with Fritz Wunderlich & Hilde Güden
In RA format

James King sings Daphne: Was führt dich her im niedern Gewande?, with Hilde Güden
In RA format

James King sings Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
In RA format

James King sings Die Walküre: Siegmund heiß' ich, with unknown soprano
In RA format
I wish to thank Daniele Godor for the recording (Manon Lescaut).
I wish to thank Helmut Krautschneider for the recording (Winterstürme).
I would like to thank Thomas Silverbörg for the recordings (Daphne, Siegmund heiß' ich).
I wish to thank Roberto Falcone for the picture.

Cavalleria fusticana (Alfio) – Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, 1947
Hänsel und Gretel (Peter) – Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, 1947
Faust (Valentin) – Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, 1948?
Le nozze di Figaro (Almaviva) – Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University
The desert song – Kansas City, 1951
Carmen – San Francisco, War Memorial, 19 May 1961
Ariadne auf Naxos – Cincinnati, Zoo?, 23 June 1961
Tosca – Firenze, Pergola, October 1961
Fidelio – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 1962
Der Rosenkavalier (Sänger) – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 1962
Moses und Aron (Ein junger Mann) – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 1962
Un ballo in maschera – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 1962
Anacréon – Salzburg, Felsenreitschule, 3 August 1962
Lohengrin – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 22 May 1963
Die Zauberflöte (Erster Geharnischter) – Salzburg, g. Festspielhaus, 1963
Macbeth – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 29 September 1963
La bohème – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 17 December 1963
Die Frau ohne Schatten (Kaiser) – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 8 February 1964
Daphne (Apollo) – Wien, Theater an der Wien, 1964
Elektra – Salzburg, Großes Festspielhaus, 1964
Turandot – Berlin, Deutsche Oper, 6 February 1965
Die Walküre – Bayreuth, Festspielhaus, 1965
Parsifal – Bayreuth, Festspielhaus, 1966
Der fliegende Holländer (Erik) – Wien, Staatsoper, 1967
Wozzeck (Tambourmajor)
Billy Budd (Vere) – New York, Metropolitan Opera
Iphigénie en Aulide (Achilles)
Mathis der Maler (Albrecht)
Die tote Stadt
Pagliacci (Canio)
Cavalleria rusticana (Turiddu)
Les contes d'Hoffmann
Madama Butterfly
Manon Lescaut – Berlin, Deutsche Oper
Samson et Dalila
Notre Dame (composer Schmidt, Phoebus)
Die Liebe der Danae (Midas)
Salome (Narraboth)
Salome (Herodes) – New York, Metropolitan Opera
Otello – San Francisco
La traviata
Il trovatore
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Der Freischütz
Reference: James King Nun soll Ihr mich befragen Die Autobiografie, Henschel Verlag, Berlin 2000

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