Since winning the inaugural Seattle Opera International Wagner competition in 2006, James Rutherford has become renowned for his interpretations of German romantic opera. He has performed Hans Sachs Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for the Bayreuth Festival (2010, 2011), 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. He has also sung Amfortas Parsifal and Holländer with the City of Birmingham Symphony conducted by Andris Nelsons. In 2016 James added Wotan to his repertoire performing the complete Ring cycle at Oper Frankfurt conducted by Sebastian Weigle. Since then he has performed Das Rheingold and Die Walküre at the Budapest Wagner Festival (A. Fischer), the complete cycle with Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Kober), Das Rheingold for Hamburgische Staatsoper (Nagano), Die Walküre at Tanglewood (Nelsons) and a concert and recording of Die Walküre with the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Rattle).
His Strauss roles include Jochanaan Salome at the Wiener Staatsoper, Berlin Staatsoper and Opéra National de Montpellier; Mandryka Arabella with the Dutch National Opera, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Liceu, Barcelona and Oper Frankfurt; Orestes Elektra for Hamburgische Staatsoper, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Faninal Der Rosenkavalier for Oper Frankfurt. Last season he sang the role of Peter Hänsel und Gretel in a new production at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
In 2009 he began a major association with the Oper Graz singing his first Hans Sachs and returning for Barak Die Frau ohne Schatten, Germont La traviata, Iago Otello, Orestes Elektra, Scarpia Tosca and the title roles in Falstaff and Guillaume Tell. Following a guest contract as Lysiart in a new production of Euryanthe in 2015, James began a long-term relationship with the Oper Frankfurt adding Ford Falstaff and Balstrode Peter Grimes to his repertoire.
This season’s highlights include Scarpia Tosca and the Ring at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Wotan Die Walküre for Teatro Real, Madrid; Hans Sachs for the Norwegian Opera and the Budapest Wagner Festival as well as concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.
His recordings on the BIS label include a CD of early 20th Century English songs; Butterworth orchestral songs with BBC NOW; Wagner arias with Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic and most recently Schubert Schwanengesang with the pianist Eugene Asti. Their recording of Schubert Winterreise will be released later this season.