James Laing


James Laing

Cantatas for the Soul / Valletta International Baroque Festival

“Before he started singing, countertenor James Laing created an aura of stillness around himself, out of which blossomed a pure, angelic voice.”



St John Passion / Academy of Ancient Music

“Instead of an alto or contralto, the young countertenor James Laing sang ‘Von den Stricken meiner Sünden” and “Es ist vollbracht!’ The latter became an exquisite dialogue with the viola da gamba of Reiko Ichise and was a highlight of the second half.”

Musical Criticism


St John Passion / Irish Chamber Orchestra

“In Bach's reflective arias, soprano Sylvia O'Brien is quietly radiant, with counter-tenor James Laing having aesthete tonal beauty like polished white marble.”

Irish Independent


Apollo: Death in Venice / Opéra de Nice

"James Laing conveyed perfectly the reason for the interventions of Apollo: an invitation to another world."



"The countertenor James Laing is an Apollo full of presence and aplomb."

Forum Opéra


"(Apollo) Is sung by the countertenor James Laing, impressively flexible of voice, and whose terrific projection means he has no trouble being heard even though much of the role is offstage."



Oberon: A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Garsington Opera

“The talented young singers all deserve mention. Space allows only one accolade: counter-tenor James Laing (Oberon), who was heart-stopping in "I know a bank".

The Guardian


“As Oberon, the countertenor James Laing was vocally and dramatically in a top league.”



“…beautifully done, with the charisma of a young-romantic hero.”

Opera Now


Oberon: A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Opera North

“The compelling young countertenor James Laing is becoming quite a master of sinister, ethereally pitched roles: he was outstanding as the Fox in Opera North's recent Pinocchio and is no less compelling here as an androgynously alien Oberon, his voice as sharp and scintillating as the diamante sarong and skull cap he is given to wear.”

The Guardian


“Their emotional mutations are engineered by James Laing’s cool countertenor Oberon…”

The Independent on Sunday


“James Laing’s Oberon and Jeni Bern’s scintillating Tytania command the stage and their magical kingdom.”

The Stage


“One of today’s most exciting young countertenors, James Laing makes a vocally highly imposing Oberon.”



Oberon: A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Opera North 2013 Revival

“…Laing’s imposing Oberon is light-toned vocally but sufficiently eerie-sounding to raise one’s neck hairs.”

The Arts Desk


“There's a tangible erotic charge between James Laing 's handsome, androgynous Oberon and Daniel Abelson's feral Puck…Laing and (Jeni) Bern are both outstanding in their roles.”

The Guardian


“James Laing’s Oberon was properly authoritative, with ‘I know a bank’ the highlight of the evening.”



Hamlet: The Firework Maker’s Daughter

“James Laing’s ethereal countertenor seems curiously suited to the plight of a pining white elephant.”

The Guardian


Cupid / Nerillus: L’Ormindo / Royal Opera, London

“James Laing was the most engaging performer as the comic page…”

Opera Now


“…mention must be made of James Laing (countertenor) as the page Nerillus/Cupid for both his elegant even tone and apparent insouciance as he hung suspended in pink and gold tutu from the flies.”

Opera Today


"Counter-tenor James Laing, in addition to appearing as a camp L’Amour in a heart-shaped tutu, was impressive as the page Nerillus."

Seen and Heard International


“Countertenor James Laing as Love sings immaculately, even when suspended above the stage in a tutu.”

Sunday Express


Fox: The Adventures of Pinocchio / Opus Arte DVD

“…the seductive villains of James Laing and Mark Wilde…”



“...winningly sung by Victoria Simmonds (Pinocchio), Jonathan Summers (Geppetto), Mary Plazas (The Blue Fairy), Rebecca Bottone (Cricket), Mark Wilde (Cat), James Laing (Fox), Graeme Broadbent (Ringmaster) and Allan Clayton (Lampwick)...”

The Independent on Sunday


Fox: The Adventures of Pinocchio Revival / Opera North

“The purity of Laing's counter tenor giving his role a sinister edge…”

Opera Britannia


The Refugee: Flight / Opera Holland Park

“Laing gets better with every passing season, but this is a role that suits him especially well, showcasing not only his growing power but also his presence – carrying, almost alone, the opera’s closing twist of the dramatic knife.”

The Arts Desk


“James Laing’s countertenor was phenomenally beautiful to listen to as the Refugee. He projected with great power, but his soft singing – especially his narration towards the opera’s end – had an ethereal beauty.”



“Jennifer France as the Controller, with her stratospheric soprano, and counter-tenor James Laing as the otherworldly Refugee are both excellent.”

The Financial Times


“I don’t think I have seen or heard a more compelling performance from James Laing (Refugee)…”



“James Laing has a beautiful creamy, unforced countertenor…”

Opera Britannia


“James Laing sang with a gorgeously even and creamy tone throughout, and in the opening acts brought a lovely seedy, melancholy down at heel feel to the character. Then in his final recitation he was spellbinding in the way he wove story, text and music into a compelling tragic whole. This was singing of great poise and of real heart…”

Opera Today


“The cast is so unwaveringly brilliant it’s almost unfair to single out Jennifer France’s Controller, who cruises effortlessly at superhuman altitudes, and James Laing’s Refugee, sung with vibrancy and resilience.”

The Stage


“ I’ve never heard the counter-tenor James Laing do anything better than his touching yet restrained portrayal of the paperless Refugee.”

The Telegraph


"Funny and terribly sad, Flight closes as it begins, with our hearts held by the sheer, sweet, vertiginous sounds of (James) Laing and (Jennifer) France in companionable chastity."

The Times


“James Laing – astonishing.”

What’s On Stage


The Refugee: Flight / Scottish Opera

“Laing’s portrayal of the Refugee’s account of his journey is chillingly stirring, as he sings with impeccable vocal control against a backdrop of quivering strings.”

The Arts Desk


“Flight is something of a passion play for our time, with the Christ-like figure of the Refugee, here sensitively portrayed by James Laing, at its centre. His separateness is given expression by the otherworldly timbre of the countertenor vice.”

The Guardian


“…it is quite superbly cast across the board, with countertenor James Laing as the Refugee and stratospheric soprano Jennifer France as The Controller…”

The Herald


“Rising countertenor star James Laing makes consistently beautiful sounds as he conveys the quiet despair of the central character…”

The Stage


“…the excellent James Laing’s Refugee…”

The Sunday Times


“All members of an expert cast seize every opportunity that Dove offers them – and if I single out James Laing as the Refugee and Jennifer France as the air traffic Controller, that is only because that are presented with the biggest vocal challenges, met with gusto in both cases.”

The Telegraph


“…James Laing’s touchingly portrayed refugee.”

The Times


Raphael: Tobias and the Angel / Chandos CD

”…James Laing bringing just the right ethereal quality to his singing as Raphael.”



Raphael: Tobias and the Angel / English Touring Opera

“His countertenor had no problems with Dove’s winging lines, and every word of David Lan’s libretto came across.”



Raphael: Tobias and the Angel / The Young Vic

"The singing from the soloists is superb, particularly the soaring countertenor of James Laing…”

The Daily Telegraph


"James Laing's sublime counter-tenor leaves no doubt of Raphael's origins."

Evening Standard


"I was captivated by this show and, no less, by the three central performers...above all, the countertenor James Laing who played the angel / stranger with a streetwise, ultra cool inscrutability – a beautiful beggar poised between heaven and homelessness.”

Opera Now


Orfeo: Orfeo ed Euridice / Cannons Scholars

“…an Orfeo sung with great elegant sweetness by James Laing, whose top notes are gorgeous and with no trace of counter-tenor hooting.”

Opera Now


Messiah: Royal Northern Sinfonia

“James Laing’s He Was Despised was performed with great feeling and passion.”

The Journal


Handel: Messiah / Tafelmusik

“James Laing made a powerful countertenor…”

Globe and Mail


Guido: Flavio / English Touring Opera

“Vocally, it's exceptionally strong. Clint van der Linde struts and preens as the king, and James Laing is a wonderfully nerdy, bookish Guido…”

The Stage


Nireno: Julius Caesar / English National Opera

“…James Laing sounds sweet and true in the tiny role of Nireno.”

The Independent on Sunday


Tolomeo: Giulio Cesare / Opera North

“Countertenor James Laing’s Tolomeo steals the evening…”

The Arts Desk


“The steely-toned counter-tenor James Laing is perfectly sinister as Cleopatra’s evil sibling Tolomeo…”

The Guardian


“Tall, blonde and handsome, Laing dominated the stage in every scene he was in and depicted a dangerous and predatory villain without any trace of the comedy elements that are so often attributed to this character in other productions. He sang with agility and skill, interpolating high notes in his da capo ornamentation to exciting effect.”

Opera Britannia


“James Laing offers a keenly etched portrayal of the treacherous, feline Tolomeo…”

The Stage


“…Cleopatra’s brother Tolomeo, memorably portrayed by James Laing.”

The Times


“It’s great to see this gifted countertenor given a chance to shine, not just vocally, but also to show he does a neat line in unhinged too.”

Yorkshire Evening Post


“Yet it is the excellence of James Laing’s countertenor, in the supposedly weak character of Ptolemy, that produces such a vibrant presence…”

Yorkshire Post


Tirinto: Imeneo / Göttingen Handel Festival

“James Laing is a very flexible, well balanced countertenor.”

Göttinger Tageblatt


"Handel obviously sympathised with Tirinto's plight, giving him a luxurious series of numbers which James Laing exploited to the full."

Neue Musikzeitung


“With his warm countertenor, James Laing scored in his opening aria.”



"Laing is a remarkably assured countertenor with a gloriously direct and pleasing timbre and truly astounding ability to scale the heights (top A), which many falsettists lack the nerve and technique to do with such elegance and delicacy. He is also a very persuasive actor in the role."

Opera Now


Medoro: Orlando / The Early Opera Company

“...Freston’s sweet, shimmering, beautifully mobile, technically faultless soprano and Laing’s serene countertenor stole the show...”

Independent on Sunday


"...James Laing, whose extraordinarily limpid, clear countertenor, needle-sharp in diction and intonation, should take him a long way."

Opera Now


Armindo: Partenope / English National Opera

“As one of Partenope's three suitors, the foppish Armindo, counter-tenor James Laing tumbles down the gorgeous white spiral staircase and hangs from it while singing with spot-on accuracy. Later he's asked to execute a double act with a spotlight, which he does with aplomb.”

The Arts Desk


“James Laing is excellent as timid Armindo, sliding down the huge funnel-shaped staircase and singing his aria while he hangs off its side.”

The Guardian


“James Laing fleshed out the part of Partenope’s eventual betrothed wittily and zanily…”



“…James Laing’s elegant Armindo”

The Stage


“The eloquent countertenor James Laing does an excellent Chaplin act as Armindo.”

The Standard


“James Laing reveals a talent for athletic comic routines, as well as a fine countertenor voice…”

The Times


Alessandro: Tolomeo / The Early Opera Company

“Counter tenor James Laing gave a compelling portrait of Alessandro, the brother tasked with assassinating Tolomeo, but relenting to human, filial compassion. Laing's light, supple tone was particularly warm and appealing.”

Music OMH


“Laing sang so beautifully and musically that he made Alessandro a rather more positive character than might be supposed.”

Music & Vision


“Countertenor James Laing (Alessandro) was convincing from every aspect.”

Musical Criticism


“The other countertenor in the cast was James Laing who sang Alessandro with a sweet, pure and evenly-produced tone.”

Opera Britannia


Handelfest / English Touring Opera / Opera

“There are, of course, other strong performances across the five nights: James Laing, particularly compelling as Alessandro in Tolomeo…”



Nero: The Coronation of Poppea / Opera North

“…blond, virile and athletic, prancing around the stage with limitless energy. The voice is terrific, coping brilliantly with Monteverdi’s cruel demands…”

The Arts Desk


"(James) Laing’s compelling, beautifully-toned voice makes sure that he dominates his scenes…”



"...the casting of the charismatic counter-tenor James Laing as Nero creates a compelling disconnect between the purity of his voice and the impurity of what he is voicing.”

The Guardian


“James Laing is outstanding as Nerone, with a voice much purer than his deeds. He does not neglect to show what it is to be a spoilt despot as well as a lover.”

The Observer


“Countertenor James Laing as Nerone exudes an air of danger and for very good reasons. Laing presents an athletic and volatile figure as the Emperor who will stop at absolutely nothing – including murder – to maintain his grip on power. Laing’s icy cold timbre and Piques Eddy’s sensuous dark chocolate tones are well matched in their duets “Signor, deh, non partire!” and the final blissfully sung “Pur ti miro”.”

Opera Britannia


"James Laing as Nerone stands out for the expressive colouring of his singing and his soaring upper register"

What’s On Stage


Mozart in Italy / Classical Opera Company

“…countertenor James Laing, made a considerable impression. In his Mitridate item he revealed a very smooth counter tenor without any hootiness.  The brisk excerpt from Ascanio in Alba which followed exhibited his fluency in coloratura, remarkable in such a young singer, together with an awareness of the musical structure of the piece.”

Musical Pointers


Terry: Marnie / English National Opera

"James Laing impressed as Mark's brother Terry..."

The Arts Desk


"James Laing is excellent as Mark's brother Terry, with very expressive technique..."

Broadway World


"James Laing's insinuating singing singled Terry out as a rotter..."

Classical Source


“…sung to chilling effect by countertenor James Laing.”



“The countertenor James Laing brought hefty contrast to the sheer beauty of his voice and the wonderfully predatory nature of his character, Terry.”

Opera Today


“James Laing gave a wonderfully nuanced performance as Terry Rutland, a playboy character whom we initially mistrust but whose care for Marnie leads him to set in motion the chain of events which leads to the climax.”

Planet Hugill


"James Laing reveals the sheer creepiness of Mark's twisted brother Terry..."

The Stage


“To the role of Terry, James Laing brought a strong countertenor…”

The Sunday Times


"James Laing stands out as Mark Rutland's scheming brother Terry."

The Telegraph


“The excellent James Laing play’s Mark’s ne’er do well brother; it’s good to a see a countertenor land a character with balls.”

What’s On Stage


Cheshire Cat: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Opera Holland Park

“No self-respecting new opera comes without a counter-tenor these days, but James Laing justifies it this time with his fantastical Cat.”

The Daily Telegraph


Zelim: La verita in cimento / Garsington Opera at Wormsley

“…the sweet toned James Laing…”

Financial Times


“The timbre is rich, the singing agile and elegant with, in particular, the trills perfectly executed (this has become sufficiently rare to be noted).

Forum Opéra


“Laing’s singing was in many ways the most alluring of the evening. He made a thing of beauty of Act 1’s gentle lamento “Tu m’offendi”, the first time a character in the opera looks decisively inwards, with creamily rounded tone and consistently centred tuning.”

Opera Britannia


“James Laing produces a beautiful countertenor tone…”

Wall Street Journal


Other Shakespearean Dreams / The Liceu, Barcelona

“And the elegant countertenor James Laing sang songs by English composers from the Tudor period with a voice of ineffable beauty and effectiveness.”

La Vanguardia


J. S. Bach: B Minor Mass / Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

"The vocal soloists themselves all did good work, but among them the highlight of the evening was countertenor (James) Laing, whose bright and British-trained rendering of the alto solos stole the show, and the ovations reflected that."



J. S. Bach Magnificat BWV 243
Johanna Winkel, Johanette Zomer, Zachary Wilder, Matthew Brook
Arion Orchestre Baroque c. Alexander Weimann
Atma Classics CD ACD 22727

Dove Tobias and the Angel (role of Raphael)
Maureen Brathwaite, Karina Lucas, Hyacinth Nicholls, Darren Abrahams,
Rodney Clarke, Omar Ebrahim
The Young Vic Ensemble / David Charles Abell
Chandos CD CHAN 10606

Dove The Adventures of Pinocchio (roles of The Fox / The Coachman)
Victoria Simmonds, Jonathan Summers, Mary Plazas, Rebecca Bottone, Graeme Broadbent, Allan Clayton, Mark Wilde, Carole Wilson
Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North / David Parry
Opus Arte DVD OA 1005D


James Laing sings Muhly: Marnie - ‘Goodbye. I wanted to free you’