A Cambridge English graduate with an MPhil in American Literature, James began his career in 2009 with English Touring Opera. He has since worked at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Salzburg Festival, Royal Danish Opera, National Theatre, Barbican, Edinburgh International Festival, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, and Opera North.

His productions encompass premieres of new and rediscovered pieces alongside works from the core repertoire. Recent directing includes Chérubin (Royal Academy Opera), L'elisir d'amore (Iford Arts), Don Giovanni (British Youth Opera), l'Ospedale (Aldeburgh / Wilton's Music Hall / Bury Court Opera), Figaros Bryllup (Kilden Teater-og Konserthus), Mansfield Park (Opera South), and La belle Hélène (Blackheath Halls), which was nominated for an International Opera Award. James has directed revivals for Opera North, Glyndebourne and English Touring Opera and earlier this year he was the associate on Opera North's production of The Marriage of Figaro.

James' site-responsive stagings including an immersive version of Puccini's La Rondine and the world-premiere of modern operatic triptych, Snow, set across three floors of the Bussey Building in Peckham. In 2012-2013 he was creative director of Opera di Peroni, an innovative performance campaign with GO Opera and electronic artist, Kwes, which presented opera in unconventional locations across the UK. From 2015-18 he directed four touring productions for Pop-Up Opera and his acclaimed 2016 staging of I Capuleti e i Montecchi for the company was filmed as part of the BBC / British Council's Shakespeare 400 celebrations.

James has considerable experience working with young and emerging artists. In addition to his work with British Youth Opera and RAM he has directed opera scenes for the Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban and delivered youth operas and education projects for Opera North and Blackheath Halls.