James Rutherford



Since winning the inaugural Seattle Opera International Wagner competition in 2006, James Rutherford has become renowned for his interpretations of German romantic opera.

With “his rich and booming voice and nuanced acting” (Bachtrack), his celebrated Wagner roles have taken him to the world’s leading operatic stages. He has performed Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for houses including the Bayreuth Festival, Wiener Staatsoper, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Oper Köln, San Francisco Opera, Budapest Wagner Festival and Glyndebourne Festival; Wolfram Tannhäuser for San Francisco Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer for the Budapest Wagner Festival, Oper Frankfurt and Oper Stuttgart as well as Kurwenal Tristan und Isolde for Washington National Opera.

James continues to sing his core repertoire in the 23/24 season, where his roles include Der Holländer Der Fliegender Holländer and Faninal Der Rosenkavalier for Deutsche Oper am Rhein; Wotan Das Rheingold in his debut with Calgary Opera, and Wotan Die Walküre with the Hangzhou Philharmonic/Markus Stenz. He adds the role of Rocco Fidelio to his repertoire in a tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic/Dudamel.

Read more


“Above all, James Rutherford shone as Hans Sachs. It is now ten years since he undertook the role at the Bayreuth Festival and at this performance he surpassed himself in the Third Act. He sang a riveting monologue with his powerful, robust baritone voice and was particularly moving at the moment of giving Eva over to Walther. Rutherford was especially masterful and relaxed in the role, identifying closely with it and always attentive to detail. One must also mention his excellent diction and understanding of the role and, after some initial tentativeness, he gave a sophisticated, deeply affecting portrayal.”

Alexander Richter


“It is this direction that indicates the solid and structured approach of James Rutherford. His homogeneous, legato, silky tone, reminds us of hymns and popular dances, sung in a very natural dynamic with expansive sound. This Winterreise takes us under the ice, in these secret places where, beyond despair, loneliness, the petrification of the cold, the multiple and tiny shivers of life sparkle. Gorgeous. Sound: 10 Record: 10 Repertory: 10 Interpretation: 10″ 

Benedicte Palaux-Simonnet

Crescendo Magazine

“James Rutherford’s Wotan sounded finer, more accomplished and more nuanced than ever. He has already sang this role at some large German houses and now seems to have completely embodied and perfected it. He has admirably worked on the role interpretation and was able to convincingly portray every last ounce of Wotan’s inner turmoil. As an angry, furious god of war and immediately afterwards as a loving father, he knew how to utter every word in the most suitable vocal timbre. Rutherford has found the role of a lifetime with Wotan.”

Opern Magazin