James McLennan debuted with Pacific Opera Victoria as Sesto in the 2002 production of Julius Caesar. He returned as Brighella in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and as Goro the marriage broker in the 2015 production of Madama Butterfly. In 2017 he performed the role of young Jean Bilodeau in Les Feluettes, which he had created in the opera’s 2016 world première in Montreal and later reprised at Edmonton Opera. In 2019 he was Gastone in La traviata, and in 2020 he returns in the role of Remendado in Bizet’s Carmen.
James has been celebrated for his “considerable charm,” “dramatic intensity” and “strong yet pure tenor,” in a career encompassing over 25 roles on opera stages across Canada. An alumnus of Toronto’s famed Second City improv and comedy training centre, Jamie’s lovesick protagonists, quirky villains and comical sidekicks have been winning over audiences from coast to coast for more than a decade. Possessing a “sweet lyric voice,” James’ “freely expressive and carefully nuanced singing” has also been featured in repeat performances with major Canadian orchestras and musical ensembles.
Highlights of Jamie’s 2018/19 season included Handel’s Messiah with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and his debut with the Regina Symphony in Riel, Heart of the North by Neil Weisensel and Suzanne M. Steele. He also appeared with Winnipeg’s Dry Cold Productions as the Warden in the award-winning Kander and Ebb musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman and ended the season on a lighter note with a concert of classic show tunes for the Kelowna Community Concert Association.
His credits for the 2017/18 season included Goro in Madama Butterfly at Manitoba Opera, Luther Billis in South Pacific for Calgary Opera, and Jean Bilodeau in the critically acclaimed production of Les Feluettes for Edmonton Opera. He also toured the Canadian prairies with A Prairie Boy’s Life, a new chamber work by John Greer commissioned by the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. In spring 2018, James travelled to France on a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for six weeks of study under internationally renowned clown and acting teacher, Philippe Gaulier.
Previous opera credits include Bardolfo in Falstaff at Manitoba Opera, Caïus in Falstaff (Hamilton Opera, Montreal Opera), Almaviva in The Barber of Seville (Edmonton Opera), Pang in Turandot (Edmonton Opera), Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera), Spoletta in Tosca and Remendado in Carmen (Opera Lyra Ottawa), Beppe in Pagliacci (Hamilton Opera), and the title role in Candide (Toronto Operetta Theatre, Windsor Symphony).
On the concert stage James has appeared as a soloist with the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Amadeus Choir, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Grand Philharmonic Choir, Toronto Classical Singers, the Prince George Symphony, Pax Christi Choral, and Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings. He has also been a regular guest artist at Augustfest in Brandon, Manitoba.
An alumnus of the Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier lyrique, James McLennan is featured on a Naxos recording of Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit and Te Deum with Toronto’s Aradia Ensemble. He is James McLennan is a voice instructor with the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. He holds a degree in French Translation from York University’s Glendon College.
As the third member of the love triangle, tenor James McLennan offers a stunning performance as the younger Bilodeau. Relegated to the sidelines as the relationship between Simon and Vallier develops, McLennan convincingly depicts his character as pained and desperate in his longing for Simon. McLennan’s voice shimmers especially when he prays for guidance when faced with the threat of losing Simon forever.
Oliver Munar, Schmopera, review of Les Feluettes, Edmonton Opera, 2017