“Conductor James Southall showed that he doesn't just know the music but loves it and understands it. It is difficult to take seriously an overture which includes a variation of 'God Save the Queen’ but Southall did and drew a performance of striking drama from the orchestra. Throughout he showed a nice tendency to push the more dramatic sections, creating some vivid moments, whilst giving the singers space in gentler passages. This created a feeling of urgency in the drama which matched the performance, whilst never making us think it was over-metronomic or rushed.”

- Robert Hugill, March 2019 (Roberto Devereux)

“James Southall’s conducting is a major contributory factor – his tempos are on the speedier side, and with fantastically responsive playing from the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera allied to some engaging continuo playing there is a great spontaneity and nuance.”

- Alexander Campbell, March 2018 (Don Giovanni)

“With some supple singing and deft ensemble interplay throughout, they are helped by conductor James Southall’s airy punchiness, and fine playing from the WNO Orchestra.”

- Steph Power for, February 2018 (Don Giovanni)

“He directed a performance both tight and fluent, rhythmically exciting and supportive of the singers (and dancers) on stage. The orchestra seemed to be relishing the music a good deal, and, especially in the orchestral preludes, notably that to Act III, there was some outstanding playing.”

- Glyn Pursglove for Seen and Heard International, October 2017 (Die Fledermaus)

“Members of the WNO orchestra under James Southall played Le Vin Herbé on-stage with grave beauty, and the WNO chorus sang Martin’s mournful declamatory lines with their wonted urgency and passion…”
- Ivan Hewett for The Telegraph, February 2017


"Conductor James Southall brings the score to life with zest, and there are moments when his connection with the soloists is exciting – almost as if he were a member of the cast himself."

- Kate Kellaway for The Guardian, February 2017


“James Southall conducts a neat, crisp reading of the score, and WNO’s excellent orchestra revels in Rossini’s trademark crescendos. The sum of it is pure entertainment, never something to be sniffed at..”

- Rupert Christiansen for The Telegraph, February 2016