Douglas Williams has received international acclaim for his expressivity, outstanding stage presence, and generous vocal tone. In opera, concert, chamber music, and musical theater he is recognized for his versatility and range both vocally and dramatically, and this has brought him into collaboration with some of the great artists, composers, and directors of our time. His repertoire reaches over four centuries, being a sought-after interpreter of Monteverdi, Handel, Bach, and Mozart, in addition to the romantic and modern eras.
On the stage Douglas Williams is consistently praised for his demeanor as an actor and mover. His reputation lead him to be called upon by such celebrated directors as Mark Morris (Acis and Galatea for Lincoln Center), James Darrah (Agrippina for Opera Omaha), William Kentridge (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria for Pacific Musicworks), Donald Byrd (Il ballo delle ingrate for Pacific Musicworks), Gilbert Blin (Tigrane for Opéra de Nice), and this season he is premiering a new production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo by director-choreographer Sasha Waltz for the Dutch National Opera and Berlin Staatsoper, lead by Pablo Heras-Casado. In the area of new works for the stage Douglas Williams created the role of the bass in Charles Wuorinen’s It Happens Like This for the Tanglewood Music Center and Guggenheim Works and Process, the role of Robert Biberti in Barry Manilow’s Harmony for LA’s Ahmanson Theater, and workshopped the role of the General in Reinaldo Moya's Generalissimo.
In concert Douglas Williams has appeared with several notable orchestras including the Detroit Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the New Haven Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, and the Albany Symphony. Likewise he has concertized with the baroque period orchestras Tafelmusik, les Talens Lyriques, Philharmonia Baroque, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Freiburger Barockorchester, and Seattle Baroque. In contemporary chamber music he has sung with the Biava Quartet, Ensemble Signal, Sound Icon, and the Southwest Chamber Music Society.
His communicative vocal style and interest in synthesizing dramatic action with musical gesture is heavily influenced from many projects with the conductor and lutenist Stephen Stubbs, a collaboration begun in 2003. He has worked with maestros Stefan Asbury, Justin Brown, Jane Glover, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Helmut Rilling, Christophe Rousset, Sir Neville Mariner, Christopher Warren-Green, Bruno Weil, and Sir David Wilcocks.
In recital Douglas Williams appeared at the 2013 Ojai Music Festival singing works by Ives and Cowell, and the Tanglewood Music Center as a Fellow in 2011 and 2012 in a wide variety of song repertoire. With the baroque chamber group Tragicomedia he has presented a recital of Handel and Stradella at New York’s Morgan Library.
In recording Douglas Williams has made several critically acclaimed discs of seventeenth and eighteenth century music for the German CPO label, including Charpentier’s La descente d’Orphée aux enfers (nominated for a Grammy for Best Opera Recording 2014), Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and Lully’s Psyché (nominated for a Grammy for Best Opera Recording 2008), all with the Boston Early Music Festival. On the Naxos label he has recorded Grétry’s Le Magnifique with Opera Lafayette in the role of Laurance. As a graduate student at Yale he recorded a handful of large sacred works with Simon Carrington and the Yale Schola Cantorum, including Bach's Johannes-Passion singing the role of Jesus.
Douglas Williams trained at the New England Conservatory with Edward Zambara and the Yale School of Music with James Taylor. He has been a Fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Carmel Bach Festival, and a post-graduate Fellow of the Yale School of Music. His interest in theater lead him to train in Shakespeare & Company’s noted Monthlong Intensive in Lenox, Massachusetts, with Tina Packer and Dennis Krausnick.
Douglas Williams was raised in Farmington, Connecticut, and now lives in Berlin. He writes poetry and responds strongly to nature. Both alone and with friends he has explored wild places of the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Rocky Mountains, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Swiss Alps, and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
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the new york times
“the bass-baritone Douglas Williams, in a superbly incisive performance"
“The most powerful singer here was Douglas Williams, a bass-baritone with a superb sense of drama.”
“Mr. Williams is a lively mover, kicking the air as he first vaults onto the stage, lifted by others... Mr. Williams is also the most completely satisfying singer here.”
“The gifted young bass-baritone, Douglas Williams, in the role of Alix’s dashing, long-lost husband, Laurance.”
“Stylish and warm voiced”
“An unusually fine-grained bass voice”
“An ample bass-baritone of an intrinsically beautiful quality, and a sensitive resonation to text."
atlanta journal constitution
“Williams is possessed of a one-of-a-kind instrument, and you can hear it every time he opens his mouth to speak or sing.”
“This young bass just keeps sounding deeper and richer, and he’s a handsome, resourceful theater presence to boot.”
wall street journal
“The visible, vocal and dramatic star of the sung show was bass-baritone Douglas Williams as Polyphemus. Far from being a giant one-eyed monster, he is a tall, suave, handsome lecher in a business suit... He also sings with great gusto, and acts and moves skillfully among the dancers… A most ingratiating villain."
“Douglas Williams deployed a winning stage manner and a sturdy bass-baritone that lent a gleeful tone to the villainous Polyphemus. It was impossible to resist.”
chicago classical review
“A secure and sonorous presence.”
“A formidable stage presence.”
San Francisco chronicle
“Douglas Williams was a fine blend of tonal power and physical resourcefulness.”
“a fiercely versatile performer"
seen and heard international
“Rock-solid voice and commanding stage presence.”