José Van Dam is the stage-name of Joseph Van Damme, a bass-baritone singer born in Brussels in 1940. He studied music at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, where he won first prize for singing and opera aged just 18. He made his stage début as Don Basilio in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at the Paris Opera in 1961, becoming a principal singer there in 1965, when he sang Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. For the last 43 years, he has been a sought-after operatic and recital performer at major opera houses and concert halls worldwide, including Milan (La Scala), London (Covent Garden) Berlin (Deutsche Oper), Brussels (La Monnaie), Vienna (State Opera), Buenos Aires (Teatro Colon), New York (Carnegie Hall) and the festivals at Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence and Orange. He also acted and sang in two feature films : Joseph Losey’s Don Giovanni (1979) and Gérard Corbiau’s The Music Master (1988). He has received numerous awards from critics for his recordings, which include all the major bass-baritone operatic roles, as well as many first recordings of new works, including Enesco’s Oedipus, Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole and Messiaen’s St Francis of Assisi. In 1997, he sang the title role in the revival of Jacques Brel’s French-language version of The Man of La Mancha at the Liège Opera, and in 1999 he sang Franck’s Panis Angelicus at the wedding of Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium. He was created a Belgian Baron in 1998 in recognition of his musical achievements and continues to perform and give master-classes.