“A formidable display of vocal power and dramatic assurance,” mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel recently made a number of outstanding débuts at esteemed venues throughout the country, including Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette and the cover for Fenena in Nabucco, Carnegie Hall for Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and with New York Philharmonic alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteeps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. This season, Ms. Nansteel takes part in Mainly Mozart Festival’s production of Jake Heggie’s The Work at Hand; reprises the role of Lucinda in Cold Mountain, which she originated with Santa Fe Opera, with North Carolina Opera; performs Siegrune in Die Walküre with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Grace in The Summer King with Michigan Opera Theatre; and makes her house début with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Last season’s engagements include a reprisal of Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette with Santa Fe Opera, Flosshilde in Das Rheingold with North Carolina Opera, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Arizona Opera, La Duegne in Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theatre, and Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking with Opera on the Avalon. Recently, she created the role of Lucinda in the world première of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s thrilling novel Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera. Other notable recent engagements include Nettie Fowler in Carousel and Elvira Griffiths in An American Tragedy with Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Berta in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. Other roles in her repertoire include Adalgisa in Norma, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Eboli in Don Carlo, Amneris in Aïda, and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde.
Nansteel has performed numerous times with Washington National Opera, most recently as Marquise of Birkenfield in La fille du régiment, in their production of Champion, and as part of a world-première performance of Douglas Pew and Dara Weinberg’s new opera Penny with Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. She completed the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, where she performed many roles including Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Curra (cover Preziosilla) in La forza del destino, Paula (cover) in Florencia en el Amazonas, as well as The Cat in Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me.
Also sought after for her performances on the concert stage, Ms. Nansteel performed Händel’s Messiah with the Memphis Symphony and Charleston Symphony; John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs with the Oregon Mozart Players; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Seattle Symphony and Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico in Milan under the baton of Maestro Xian Zhang; gala concerts with Opera America, at the Smithsonian, and additional venues throughout New York; and various additional concerts including Stravinsky’s Les noces, Penderecki’s Credo, and Händel’s Israel and Egypt.
With the Seattle Opera, she also performed La suora infermiera in Suor Angelica (main stage début), Dame Marthe in Faust, Mary in Der fliegende Holländer, and, as a former member of Seattle Opera’s young artist program, Giulietta in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, Maddalena in a performance of Rigoletto, Juno and Ino in Händel’s Semele, and Foreign Woman in The Consul.
Ms. Nansteel is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she earned an Artist Diploma in Opera and a Master of Music in Voice. At CCM, she performed the roles of Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia, and Mother Goose in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. She also received Bachelor of Music degrees in both Vocal Performance and Vocal Jazz Studies from East Carolina University and currently studies with Barbara Paver.
Recent awards include Second Place in the Sun Valley Opera competition in Seattle, the Andrew White Award and Seybold/Russel Award in the Corbett Opera Scholarship Competition, and a Winner in the National Orpheus Vocal Competition. She also recently earned the highly-esteemed Betty Allen Award and a grant from the Sullivan Foundation.