Originally from Louisville, KY, he began his operatic career with Kentucky Opera. While a student in Louisville, he was invited to participate as one of the youngest artists in the San Antonio Arts Festival, where he was apprenticed to Boris Goldovsky. His conducting studies began at Indiana University under Jan Harrington, Robert Porco, and Thomas Dunn. While there he also worked with Glyndebourne Festival Opera conductor Bryan Balkwill, and MET stage directors, Fritz Busch and James Lucas.
He came to North Carolina in 1993 to join the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where his duties now include Artistic Director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. There he has conducted many performances including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Donizetti’s Belisario. Composer Kirke Mechem was so pleased with Allbritten’s reading of his Tartuffe, that he asked him to lead the first act of his new opera Pride and Prejudice in a workshop premiere.
As the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for Piedmont Opera, his repertoire includes Verdi’s Aida and Un ballo in maschera, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Ward’s The Crucible and the opera house premiere of The Light in the Piazza.
Of Piedmont Opera’s Un ballo in maschera, Opera News said, “The musical excellence for the entire evening was the work of the conductor, James Allbritten…His tempos were well chosen, attacks were precise, and coordination and balance with the singers was exemplary.”
Of Turandot the Winston Salem Journal wrote: “This Turandot, conducted and staged by James Allbritten, Piedmont Opera’s artistic director,sets the standard for hybrid presentations of operas that would be too expensive or too large for a small company to present in conventional ways, such as with complete sets.”
He has also led performances for Opera Theater of the Rockies, Opera Carolina, and the Winston-Salem Symphony. Allbritten spent four seasons as Music Director for NCSA’s illuminations festival on the Outer Banks, and led the schools Festival Orchestra at Côte Vermeille and for the Flâneries Musicales d’Ete de Reims in France. Recent projects include the Southeastern premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town, which was co-commissioned by the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Future projects include South Pacific for Piedmont Opera Les contes d’Hoffmann and Mozart’s La finta giardiniera for the Fletcher Institute and The King and I for Opera Theater for the Rockies.