José van Dam is one of the most famous and interpreters of the bass-baritone repertoire, and since his debut at Paris Opera in The Trojans, he is regularly invited to the most important opera houses and festivals all over the world (e.g. Opéra de Paris, Covent Garden Opera, Scala di Milano, Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Metropolitan Opera New York, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Salzburg Festival (Easter and Summer), Festivals of Aix-en-Provence, Orange und Saito Kinen (Japan) etc.
The artist is as much interested in traditional as in contemporary music, and his operatic repertoire includes (amongst others) the following parts: Falstaff, Simon Boccanegra, Philipp II./Don Carlos, Don Giovanni, the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Boris Godunov, Sachs/Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Amfortas/Parsifal, the Flying Dutchman, Jochanaan/Salome, Mephisto/Faust (Gounod) and La damnation de Faust (Berlioz), Golaud/Pelléas et Mélisande, Guglielmo Tell, Wozzeck, Scarpia/Tosca, Gianni Schicchi, Selim/Turco in Italia.
The artist created the title part in the world premiere of Olivier Messiaen's St. François d’Assise at Paris Opera, and he was equally acclaimed in this role in the Peter-Sellars-production at Salzburg Festival.
He sang the title part in the world premiere of Oedipe sur la route by Pierre Bartholomée in Brussels, L’heure espagnole, Gianni Schicchi and Elias at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan, La damnation de Faust at Geneva Opera and Opera Bastille, St. François d’Assise at the Ruhr Triennale and at Opera Bastille, Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Zürich Opera House, Don Pasquale at Teatro Real Madrid, Pelléas et Mélisande at Opera Bastille and at the Met New York, From the house of the dead at Teatro Real, L’amour des trois oranges, La Traviata and Louise at Opera Bastille (including revivals in the season 2007/08) as well as Frau ohne Schatten, Boris Godunow, Traviata and "La Forza del Destino" at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels.
He collaborated with numerous famous conductors such as Karajan, Abbado, Muti, Solti, Levine, Ozawa, Maazel, Davis, Plasson, Dutoit, Pappano, Cambreling etc., and he realized most important recordings with them. His European Tour with Boston Symphony Orchestra and James Levine in 2007 was an acclaimed success. Also in future, José van Dam will be singing recitals and concerts besides various opera productions.
In past seasons, José van Dam enriched his already large discography with new recordings, such as (amongst others): Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Sir Georg Solti; Faust by Gounod (EMI FRANCE); Oedipe by Enescu (EMI FRANCE); Pelléas et Mélisande with Claudio Abbado (DG) and Don Quichotte (EMI FRANCE), which all have been honoured with important awards.
In 1987, Belgian TV (RTBF) produced the film Le maître de musique (The Master of Music) with José van Dam in the title part, and he also sang Leporello in Joseph Losey's film version of Don Giovanni.
For his extraordinary interpretations on stage and on records, he received (amongst others) the following awards: German Music Critics' Prize , Gold Medal of the Belgian Press, Grand Prix de l'Académie Française du Disque, Orphée d'Or of the Académie Lyrique Française, European Critics' Prize for his interpretation of the title part in St. François d’Assise in Paris, Diapason d'Or and Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque (1993) as well as the Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du Disque Lyrique (1994).
From the University of Montreal José van Dam got the Doctor honoris causa, the City of Berlin honoured him with the title of "Kammersänger", in France he was bestowed “Commandeur des Arts et Lettres” and recently, José van Dam was ennobled by King Albert II of Belgium.