(May 22, 1925 – November 20, 2005)
Often called the greatest American heldentenor of the twentieth century James King started his career as a baritone and after gaining a masters degree in 1952 in music he noticed in 1955 that he had more of a tenor's range.
He retrained making his debut as Don Jose in Carmen with the San Francisco Opera.
With the Deutsche Oper in Berlin he sang French and Italian repertoire until 1965 and debuted at the Metropolitan in 1966. From then he went to sing in all the major opera houses in Europe and was a favourite at the Vienna State Opera where he sang Fidelio in 1997.
Singing with all the leading artists of the day he had a major recording career and sang the Strauss/Wagner repertoire with noteable distinction. One of his landmark recordings was singing the famed Solti "Die Walkure" with Birgit Nilsson.
From 84- 2003 he was known as an inspirational teacher at the Indiana University. Married three times he had five children and died suddenly in 2005 of a heart attack.
James King lives on in the many wonderful recordings he left behind and there is a particularly excellent filmed performance of Korngold's Die Tote Stadt with Karan Armstrong.