Praised for his vocal phrasing and colour, James Clayton is one the most versatile singers to emerge from Australia in recent years. He has been lauded by audiences and reviewers alike for his performances throughout the opera houses and concert halls of Australia and New Zealand.
In 2016, he sings Tonio (Pagliacci) for Victorian Opera, Scully (The Riders) for West Australian Opera and The Speaker (The Magic Flute) for New Zealand Opera – he also appears as soloist with the Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras.
After ten years as a professional French horn player, James turned to singing and became a Young Artist with West Australian Opera in 2006 and 2007. His many roles since have included Papageno in The Magic Flute, The King in Aida, Ashby in La fanciulla del West, Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers, Schaunard in La bohème, The Four Villians in The Tales of Hoffmann, Balstrode in Peter Grimes, Escamillo in Carmen, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Tonio in Pagliacci, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Orest’s Tutor in Elektra and the title roles in Le nozze di Figaro, Falstaff, and The Mikado.
James made his Opera Australia debut as Baron Douphol in La traviata – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – and his Japanese debut as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte for Biwako Hall.
Recent engagements have included Escamillo in Carmen for Opera Australia and the title role in Rigoletto, Leporello in Don Giovanni and Schaunard in La bohème for West Australian Opera. He has also enjoyed considerable success on the concert platform with performances of Handel's Messiah (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra), Haydn’s Mass in Time of War and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria (Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra), Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (West Australian Symphony Orchestra) and Orff’s Carmina Burana (Orchestra Wellington).
In 2014 James sang Papageno, Iago in Otello and Conte di Luna in Il trovatore for West Australian Opera and appeared in concert with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia and the Wellington Orchestra; for the New Zealand International Arts Festival, he sang José Tripaldi in Ainadamar. James launched his 2015 season with a title role debut in West Australian Opera's production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. Later that year, he revived his critically acclaimed title role performance in Le nozze di Figaro and sang Angelotti (Tosca) for New Zealand Opera in Auckland and Wellington.