The guiding lights in my life have always been music, languages and travel, whether studying French and Russian at Exeter university, teaching English and taking singing lessons in Milan, performing opera and musical theatre throughout Europe, or teaching French and Spanish in a secondary school in Kent! I now enjoy combining a performing career with vocal and language tuition/coaching at my home in France. I've also been asked to conduct a new choir in the area - Vox Vallis. Still following those lights!
London-born, and now French resident, James read French and Russian at Exeter University then qualified as a Management Accountant working at British Airways. He began his operatic training in Milan, before attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama whilst making early professional appearances as Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Achillas in Julius Caesar, Argante in Rinaldo, Proteo/Marte in Il Parnasso in Festa, Marco in Gianni Schicchi at St. John’s Smith Square, and Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Festival Hall.
Going on to study at the National Opera Studio, he came to the attention of a wider public as Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore and his critically-acclaimed Figaro in Il Barbiere de Siviglia, both for Grange Park Rising Stars. This led to engagements for Grange Park Opera as Bello in La Fanciulla del West, Hajny/Lovec in Rusalka and the title role Eugene Onegin at Nevill Holt, Grange Park and Cadogan Hall. He made his debut for Opera North in the title role of Don Giovanni and has since returned to Opera North as the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, Cascada in The Merry Widow and Pastore/Spirito in Orfeo.
His debut for English National Opera was as Morales in Carmen. He created the role of Alasdair in the Sky Arts Award-winning Scottish Opera/Music Theatre Wales joint production of Ghost Patrol by Stuart MacRae, in Glasgow, at the Edinburgh Festival, the Linbury Studio - ROH and on national tour. He reprised various roles at the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), Gran Teatre de Liceu (Barcelona) and at the Staatenhaus for Oper Köln (2019) in revivals of the acclaimed run of Kurt Weil's Street Scene for The Opera Group, originally at the Young Vic, the Theater an der Wien (Vienna), and on national tour in the UK and for Radio 3 Broadcast with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has sung Freddy Eynsford-hill in My Fair Lady and was recently invited by the Folies Lyriques to perform a selection of Broadway extracts in concert with the National Orchestra and Chorus of Montpellier at the amphithéâtre du Domaine d’O.
Further highlights have included Adolf in The Jacobin by Dvorak for Buxton Opera Festival and the roles of Peacock, Mouse, Leftovers and God in the world premiere of How the Whale Became by Julian Philips at the Linbury, Royal Opera House. Also, Dandini in La Cenerentola under Carlo Rizzi for Welsh National Opera and the creation of the central baritone role in the world première of The Ground beneath her Feet with the Hallé, conducted by Mark Elder at the Manchester International Festival. He has performed the title role in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Zomer Opera in Belgium and also for Opéra de Baugé, for whom he has sung Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Marcello (La Bohème) and Nardo (La Finta Giardiniera). In 2009 and 2011 he sang Rolf Gruber in The Sound of Music at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. For English Touring Opera he has sung roles in The Cunning Little Vixen, La Traviata and Don Giovanni, while significant appearances elsewhere include Pelléas, Tarquinius, Hamlet, Guglielmo and Falke, the latter for Castleward Opera in Ireland and recently at the Arcola Theatre (Grimeborn Festival) in London. He has understudied roles on several occasions at the Royal Opera House, London.
As Belcore, he toured Oliver Mears' production of The Elixir of Love with Northern Ireland Opera, Opera Theatre Company and Nevill Holt Opera. He has also sung Don Alfonso in Così fan Tutte for Scottish Opera.
His association with London-based Opera Vera began with performances of the title role in Don Giovanni. He has subsequently returned to co-direct productions of Le Nozze di Figaro (as well as singing the role of Count Almaviva) and Cosí fan Tutte. His debut directing project prior to that included a workshop programme for young singers on Eugene Onegin for the Artstrust Foundation, followed by performing in his own production of Don Pasquale as Dr. Malatesta in Wales. Shortly after that he performed the role of Dr. Malatesta again in gala concerts for the Jönköpings Sinfonietta in Sweden under Christian von Gehrer, and he was recently asked to join les Folies Lyriques in performance of songs and duets from Broadway with the Orchestre National Montpellier Occitanie and the Chœur Opéra national Montpellier Occitanie. Further exciting departures to his operatic career include featuring in the Hollywood blockbuster Mission Impossible 5, as well as theatre roles such as First Priest in T.S Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral and Scrooge's nephew in A Christmas Carol.
An experienced concert artist, oratorio performances have included Mozart’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, Gounod's Messe de Sainte Cécile at the Cadogan Hall, Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Arundel Cathedral and gala concerts at venues such as the Symphony Hall in Birmingham and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester for Raymond Gubbay. His European concert engagements have included Gounod's Messe Solennelle at the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Paris; Rossini’s Messe in Milan and Savona with the Complesso Cameristico Internazionale and in London with the Philharmonia Chorus; Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem at the Chiesa San Carlo in Milan; and a televised concert of Zarzuela in Spain. Most recently he sang the cantata Voices of Exile by Richard Blackford with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus.
Much in demand as a recitalist, James’ concert appearances have included the world premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s settings of Three Andrew Motion Songs at King’s Place in London accompanied by Iain Burnside, three recital programmes at the Crush Room, Royal Opera House with Mark Packwood, and he recently devised and performed a recital entitled "Love's Songlist" with pianist Gareth Owen at the Forge Arts and Music Venue in Camden. Having put together a visually-illustrated presentation of Schubert's Winterreise with artistic director Alexander Anderson-Hall, he has performed this cycle with pianist and conductor James Southall for the Buxton Festival and at the Glossop Music Festival. Along similar lines, he recently sang Schumann's Dichterliebe and Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel with pianist Federici Laetitia.
Together with tenor Alexander Anderson-Hall, he regularly performs a selection of eclectic recital programmes which they have devised under the name of Opera Galleria. An additional development to these programmes involves a blend of folk and classical repertoire which they perform as Classifolk.
Recordings include Songs of the Phoenix, a programme of Italian arias, songs and duets for baritone and tenor recorded at Champs Hill, Surrey, with Alexander Anderson-Hall. Also settings of English songs by Harold Craxton.
Diary and Highlights
Soirées Musicales of Golden Oldies from classics to Broadway, in the Salle Wisigoth at Rennes-le-Château.
Role of Ourrias in Gounod's Mireille, an opera set around Arles and the Camargue. Outdoor performances in the Domaine de Massiac in the Minervois. Dialogue in French and Occitan! Revivals at Capendu (Feb 2024) and Quillan (May 2024)
Guest soloist for the Chœur de l'Aude's 5-stop tour of Fauré's Requiem and Franck's Paroles du Christ.
Revisiting the role of the Toreador in Bizet's Carmen. Nov 2022 at the Stables Theatre in Hastings for Prologue Opera.
Broadway gala concert for Folies Lyriques with the Orchestre and Chœur National de Montpellier, 1&2 July 2022.
World Premiere of South Sea Bubble at the Reform Club, Pall Mall with the Cantata Dramatica, Aug 2022
Opera and Music Theatre Gala Concert at Brighton, UK in October 2022
Gala concert with extracts from Carmen and Italian Opera Favourites with the Malaga Symphony Orchestra, Sotogrande, Andalusía in July 2023. It's going to be hot!
Series of three Christmas Concerts - "Winterfête" - for Opera Galleria in the South of France 2021. Love those festive tunes!
Two semi-staged performances of Don Pasquale in Sweden for Jönköpings Sinfonietta, 2020. Lovely town, great cast, team, and director. Lots of fun!
Revisiting the role of Count Danilo in Lehar's timeless The Merry Widow.
Fun performances and great reviews (4* in the Guardian) of Die Fledermaus at the Arcola Theatre, Grimeborn Festival.
Fantastic run of Street Scene for my Cologne Opera debut with magnificent cast. Great city to work in too!
Opera Galleria's Classifolk debut performances in France enthusiastically received at La Fête de Bonnat, L'Auberge de la Tour, La Cellette, Villelongue d'Aude.
2018: Revival tour of Kiss me Kate with Opera North in Leeds, London and Ravenna. A lot of fun with a great cast!
Schumann's Dichterliebe and Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel with pianist Laetitia Federici, presented by actor Mark Hardy and with original artwork by Alexander Anderson-Hall.
Concert soloist in Fauré's Requiem and C. Franck's Paroles du Christ for the Choeur de L'Aude, 2023
"Ce concert était dirigé par Florence Vettes qui a mené l'ensemble de 50 choristes de main de maître, accompagnés à l'orgue par Marc Chiron. La soprano Myiram Garcie et le baryton James McOran-Campbell ont élevé la qualité du concert par leur remarquable prestation" Quillan News, April 2023
Falke in Die Fledermaus by Strauss at the Arcola, Grimeborn Festival 2019
James McOran-Campbell’s honeyed tones make Falke rather lush, which is no bad thing: McOran-Campbell inhabits the world of the piece throughout with joyful intensity, even waltzing a little with the boxes as he rearranges the stage between scenes
Charlotte Valori, Theatrecat.com, 9th August 2019
His wily friend Falke – James McOran-Campbell in Batman T-shirt – the nanny Adele, got up as Rhianna (Abigail Kelly), and Rosalinde (Claire Wild), the cool, long-suffering wife, were assured and witty, both musically and dramatically
Fiona Maddocks, Guardian, 10th August 2019
Adolf in The Jacobin by Dvorzak at the Buxton Opera Festival 2014
James McOran-Campbell makes a suitably sly Adolf.
George Hall, Guardian, 13th July 2014
Mouse, Peacock, Leftovers and God in How the Whale Became by Julian Philips – ROH Linbury , December 2013
Perhaps yet more notable were Donna Lennard, whose development as Frog through the evening was charismatic, and James McOran-Campbell, whose effortless stage presence and dramatic ability was wonderfully equalled vocally. McOran-Campbell demonstrated astonishing range, dramatically and vocally, with an absolutely charming, all-controlling God, a menacing and malevolent Leftovers and an utterly resplendent Poor Thing with wonderfully camp vocal exhibitions while encased in a shining skin-tight outfit.
Edward Lewis, Classicalsource.com
But for me the outstanding performance came from baritone James McOran-Campbell. He has a lovely voice and a wonderfully charismatic stage presence. It came as no surprise to discover McOran-Campbell already features on the infamous “Barihunks” website.
Miranda Jackson, Opera Britannia
With a coloratura frog and a brilliant peacock able to leap from tenor (corr. baritone!) to falsetto, the score offers every variety of operatic voice, mostly in short bursts rather than songs.[…] In How the Whale Became, a joyful cast of five took on multiple roles: Fflur Wyn as Girl/Polar Bear/Cow, Donna Lennard (Frog), Andrew Dickinson as Boy/Wild Bull, James McOran-Campbell as Poor Thing/Leftovers and Njabulo Madlala as Whale/Elephant. Charm never toppled into mawkishness.
Fiona Maddocks – The Observer
There’s also a terrific cast...
Rupert Christiansen – Telegraph
Still, there were some terrific performances from Fflur Wyn, Donna Leonard, Andrew Dickinson, James McOran-Campbell and Njabulo Madlala who threw themselves into their multiple roles with verve and conviction...
Keith McDonnell – WhatsonStage.com
Don Giovanni for Opera Vera at St Paul’s Covent Garden, Nov 2013
It was refreshing to hear good young voices in an opera that deals so candidly with human urges and emotions. James McOran-Campbell as the wicked Don was magnetic: a man possessed by a sexual energy that left him unable to function at normal levels of human interaction. His command of the role was assured and his vocal quality terrifically exciting.
Mark Valencia, The Arts Desk.com
Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore for NI Opera - Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim
Baritone James McOran-Campbell as the lusty Sgt Belcore is suitably self-assured and vocally commanding.
David Byers, The Irish Times, 30 Sept 2013
Alasdair in Ghost Patrol by Stuart MacRae for Scottish Opera – Edinburgh Festival 2012
In Ghost Patrol, the orchestra… finally gets something seriously dramatic to play – and Mathew Richardson’s production turns a chamber setting into grand opera, virtuosically designed by Samal Blak and vividly acted by James McOran-Campbell, Nicholas Sharrat and Jane Harrington […] which MacRae drapes in a score as sophisticated as it is soulful – beauty and pain indivisible.
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 4th Sept 2012
Crisply staged by Matthew Richardson, the piece benefits from the committed performances of Jane Harrington, Nicholas Sharratt and James McOran-Campbell.
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph. 31st August 2012
...the instrumental writing and the sonorities in MacRae's score are far more striking than his vocal lines. The performances – James McOran-Campbell and Nicholas Sharratt the ex-soldiers, Jane Harrington as the girl caught between them – are first-rate, though, and Matthew Richardson's production does everything required of it...
Andrew Clements, the Guardian. 1st September 2012
MacRae’s opera, with no-holds-barred libretto by Louise Welsh, is immediately exciting, making exacting and effective use of rhythm to portray the ugliness and trauma of war. While MacRae’s is somehow less self-conscious than Watkins’, both scores benefit from excellent casts and dependable conducting from Michael Rafferty.
Carol Main, the Scotsman. 31st August 2012
Title role Eugene Onegin for Grange Park Rising Stars at Cadogan Hall, London
James McOran-Campbell was delightfully young fogey-ish in the first two acts; managing to convey something of the character's appeal without being too buttoned up. McOran-Campbell is undoubtedly a singer able to convey charisma, which is essential in this role. In the first two acts, the character is very much reactive, he doesn't tell us what he is feeling but we have to learn from his interaction with others. McOran-Campbell was enormously helped here by Medcalf's beautifully detailed production, which set the piece firmly in a society where small gestures told. In act three, Onegin finally lets his emotions out and here McOran-Campbell let rip in thrilling form. He and Domnich were vividly intense in the final scene.
Robert Hugill. Planet Hugill - Online Classical Music Blog - September 2012
With the return of Onegin, musical and dramatic tension was brought to the fore, culminating in the stormy dialogue between Tatyana and our protagonist in which she asks him whether his love for her is due to her new status in society. He throws himself at her feet declaring his undying love, but she tells him it can never be and storms off the stage. The hairs on the back of my neck, and I’m sure many others’, were on end as Tatyana and Onegin part forever with Tchaikovsky’s heartbreaking music filling the Hall. I left with the feeling that I had experienced a true night at the opera – Russian decadence, glorious music and a cast that blew me away with their young talent. Rising stars indeed.
Emily Owen, Bachtrack.com September 2012
Title role Eugene Onegin for Grange Park Rising Stars at Nevill Holt
James McOran-Campbell's Onegin was stylish and handsome and cold, with that necessary show of passion just visible beneath the surface. He was fanciable and believable, with a magnificent, metal-edged baritone. In their fiendish final encounter, McOran-Campbell and Domnich gave such fiercely moving and powerful performances that a stunned silence prevailed before the audience broke into hysterical cheers and foot stamps. Bravo!
Rosie Johnston, Opera Now September 2012
Freddie Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady for Surrey Opera, Harlequin Theatre, Redhill, February 2010.
"Previously I had always winced at the part of Freddie but James McOran-Campbell was so perfect in the part with beautiful voice that I was completely converted. "
Gordon Bull, Words and Music 2010
"James McOran-Campbell's Belcore was the bombe surprise of the evening. Startlingly handsome with a fine-grained bass, he showed remarkable dexterity and ease of tone with Donizetti's glittering score. His comic timing was faultless; his lascivious gyrations hilarious.”
Opera Now Magazine, July 2009
Falke, in Tom Hawkes' production of Die Fledermaus at Castleward Opera
"James is the wonderfully scheming Falke, the orchestrator of the joke, in revenge for once having been left in a compromising position in a bat costume, by Eisenstein. His characterization brings to mind the worst kind of Tory politician, with the redeeming feature of a glorious voice. "
Andrea Rea, Belfast Newsletter, 5th June 2009
The Poisoned Kiss by Vaughan Williams for New Sussex Opera at the Winter Garden, Eastbourne, 9th November 2008
"... It was perhaps Louise Innes and James McOran-Campbell (as the servant pair, Angelica and Gallanthus) who most fully realized the work's tricky mix of comedy and pathos, pastiche and true emotion."
Mark Pappenheim, Opera Magazine, January 2009
Rusalka by Antonin Dvorjak - Grange Park Opera
"Clive Bayley was superbly authoratative as Rusalka's merman father, and there was a finely sung and acted game-keeper from James McOran-Campbell"
Peter Reed, Sunday Telegraph, Seven, 29th June 2008
Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas - English Pocket Opera - Cochrane Theatre, Holborn
“Baritone James McOran Campbell sings stunningly in the title role, sweetly conveying Hamlet’s melancholy and prevarication.”
Graham Gurrin, The Stage, 4 February 2008
Recital of La Bonne Chanson by Fauré, accompanied by Nicholas Ashton
"...a highly eloquent and persuasive performance from baritone James McOran-Campbell"
Susan Nickolls, The Scotsman, 18 April 2007
The Barber of Seville - Pimlico Opera - Sadlers Wells
"Catch if you can Pimlico Opera’s Barber of Seville… played by an excellent young cast. All the soloists have good voices, and manage Rossini’s fearsome demands capably, but James McOran-Campbell’s Figaro is a real charmer, with voice and looks to match. Clearly a name to watch... I haven’t enjoyed a Barber as much in years.”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 1 October 2006
“As Figaro, James McOran-Campbell was impressive; he is possessed of a lovely resonant baritone voice which he uses admirably. His sense of line in this music was good and his way with the fioriture quite admirable. But more than his, he has a strongly attractive stage presence. His Figaro dominated the action without McOran-Campbell ever giving in to over-acting or excessive mugging.”
Robert Hugill. Music and Vision
“The star of the show is, however, James McOran-Campbell. His confident, leather-jacketed Figaro is a fully realized portrayal, tonally mellifluous and forcefully projected. It belongs already in a bigger house and, perhaps, a subtler production.”
David Gutman, The Stage Online - Wed 27 September 2006
The Barber of Seville Sept 2006
“Vocal quality was high, especially from James McOran-Campbell’s vivd and likeable Figaro.”
Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News
Cosi fan Tutte - Garden Opera - Richmond June 22 (Guglielmo)
"... - a fully realized portrayal by James McOran-Campbell conveying both humour and passion and, finally, sung with deep anger - rejected a second-best relationship, and he and Dorabella went their separate ways, infected perhaps by the cynicism that drives Alfonso".
Margaret Davies, Opera Magazine September 2006
La Cenerentola - OperaEast Productions, Cambridge Dec 16 2004.
."..members of the cast stood out for their potential: James McOran-Campbell, as Dandini, was the finest actor and offered glimpses of a huge voice that could prove magnificent in ten years time…"
Jo Kirkbridge, Opera Magazine March 2005
The Legend of Tantuna - Opera Galleria
"Immediately impressive was the quality of Anderson-Hall's tenor and McOran-Campbell's baritone voices, which blended so well into the fabric of this musical folk tale. Owen provided sensitive accompaniment throughout, always on cue, his dynamics at the keyboard heightening or lowering the prevailing mood as required. The voices were used to such good effect that at times it was difficult to accept that we were listening to just two voices and one piano; the baritone rich and fruity and the tenor clear and mellifluous. As a recital of some of the best arias in opera by two excellent singers, this show could stand on its musical content alone."
Derek Ansell, Newbury Weekly News - Spring 2004
Brief Encounter, world premiere by Peter Wiegold at the National Opera Studio. 2004
"Like David Lean's film, the opera starts as Laura (Cora Burggraaf) and Alec (James McOran-Campbell) attempt to close their unconsumated affair with dignity and grace…
As it stands, Brief Encounter is definitely worth seeing - for the uniformly excellent singing of this year's NOS students and the excitement of seeing what can and cannot be done with such iconic material…"
Opera - The Rape of Lucretia
"Without scenery and costume, we concentrated both on the characterisation of an outstanding young cast, and particularly on Ronald Duncan's text, with its many moments of simplicity and beauty…
All three men were outstanding. James McOran-Campbell made "Tarquin's ravishing strides", in his slow walk behind the orchestra, as sensational as any on stage - with the astonishing accompaniment of untuned drum…"
Hugh Vickers, A local paper in Oxford
National Opera Studio Showcase 2004 At the Queen Elizabeth Hall, May 6
"Kate Royal's already rich lyric soprano was offset by her poised stage presence here and as Mélisande in the Pelléas Tower scene, where James McOran-Campbell partnered her creditably."
George Hall, Opera Magazine July 2004
"…There was the raw material of some fine voices, too: a forceful Countess who suggested a Donna Anna in the making and Cora Burggraaf's bright, strong Susanna in particular. James McOran-Campbel's Count is mellifluous…".
Robert Thicknesse, The Times - Tuesday, September 3rd 2002.
"Sarah Jane Davies (Countess) may not stay with Mozart for too long: her substantial, vibrant soprano and generous phrasing suggested a Mimì before too long, and who knows what soon after. John Lofthouse fielded a richly coloured bass-baritone as Figaro, with musical instincts just as promising. In this respect he was neatly balanced with James McOran-Campbell's Count, more baritonal, a natural actor whose stage manner suggested a young Keenlyside."
Rodney Milnes, From Opera Magazine, November 2002.
A recital called "Housman Songs in Summer" with Mark Packwood
"Mark Packwood had devised a programme of rarely heard settings of Housman's poetry and his singer was to have been Quentin Hayes, a baritone with whom he has worked frequently at the Royal Opera House. Unfortunately he had to withdraw with vocal problems but we were very fortunate that James McOran-Campbell, a recent graduate from the Guildhall School of Music, did a wonderful job as stand-in, especially as he had to learn most of the songs especially for this concert.
In the more familiar territory inhabited by the second half there was still room for songs by James Hamilton and Frank Lambert before we moved on to E.J. Moeran's Ludlow Town, John Ireland's We'll to the woods no more and Butterworth's almost popular Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad. Here James McOran-Campbell came into his own and sang with commendable freedom and spontaneity. His diction was excellent, and his platform manner for such a young singer confident and convincing.
... the quality of his voice was impressive with a rich tone and a very well focussed top register. Mark Packwood supported him throughout with the most sensitive playing and their partnership in the Butterworth enabled them to communicate the full force of the telling poignancy behind this powerful music."
From the Housman Society Newsletter