“Po Mourner,” Wilson’s The Wolf by the Ears
“I Feel Like I’m Not Out of Bed Yet,” Bernstein’s On the Town
“I Dream a World,” Still’s Troubled Island
Zachary James garners international acclaim for his dynamic interpretations while creating new roles spanning numerous genres. Critics praise him for his “huge, robust bass” which “resonates with force” (Bach Track), “tremendous power and presence” (The Arts Desk, London) and “vocal oomph and range” (Opera News). This season, he performs Action in West Side Story in concert with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Ithaca as part of their New Year’s Eve Gala, and Fafner in Das Rheingold with Arizona Opera and Fort Worth Opera. Future seasons will see James at the English National Opera and The Metropolitan Opera. Last season, James débuted as Claggart in Billy Budd with Des Moines Metro Opera and as Olin Blitch in Susannah with Opera Roanoke, for which critics hailed: “Bass Zachary James applies his physically striking and vocally vibrant presence to Olin Blitch, portraying perfectly the preacher’s disquiet and despair” (The Roanoke Times). Additionally, he performed in the world première of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Chamber Opera Breaking the Waves as Terry with Opera Philadelphia, as The Scribe in Philip Glass’ Akhnaten with Los Angeles Opera, and the bass solo in David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion with Illuminarts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC.
At Teatro Real Madrid, Mr. James created the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world première of Philip Glass’s Walt Disney-inspired opera The Perfect American, and subsequently reprised the role for English National Opera and Opera Queensland in Australia. He created the role of Lurch in The Addams Family on Broadway, played Hassinger in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, and performed in the 2007 Broadway play Coram Boy singing excerpts from Händel’s Messiah. Other recent engagements include performances as the bass soloist in David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion with Illuminarts at the Perez Museum in Miami and the title role in The Mikado with Union Avenue Opera.
He created the operatic roles of Oberon in the world prèmiere of Kristin Hevner’s Il Sogno at the Teatro Citta della Pieve in Umbria, Thomas Jefferson in Dana Wilson’s new opera The Wolf by the Ears, and Rebbe in Andy Teirstein’s A Blessing on the Moon at Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival, accompanied by the Grammy-winning Warsaw Village Band from Poland. Previous European engagements also include the Scribe in Akhnaten with London’s English National Opera and Sparafucile in Rigoletto at Schlossoper Haldenstein, Switzerland.
A winner of the 2009 Lotte Lenya Competition, Mr. James has since been engaged as Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd at Opera Roanoke; Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle at Opera Ithaca; Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni at Opera Ithaca and Central City Opera; the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance at Shreveport Opera; Pooh-Bah in The Mikado at Anchorage Opera; Il Bonzo in Madama Butterfly at Ash Lawn Opera and Knoxville Opera; Gideon March in Little Women and Joe in The Most Happy Fella at Knoxville Opera; Howard in Do Not Go Gentle at Phoenicia International Festival of Voice; Señor del Norte in La Reina at Prototype Festival NYC; Oberon in Il Sogno at Metropolis Opera Project; and Mr. Beauregard in The Golden Ticket at American Lyric Theatre.
Concert engagements include performances of Bernstein’s Mass with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Sweeney Todd with The New York Philharmonic, Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer with NYC Ballet, a Kurt Weill Celebration with American Symphony Orchestra, Colline in La bohème with Symphony of the Mountains, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance with Master Voices NYC, and Buff in The Impresario with Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to originating three roles on Broadway, James played off-Broadway as Pasquale in The Most Happy Fella and Jo-Jo in Irma la Douce as part of the Encores! Series at New York City Center. He performed with theatre companies throughout the United States in roles including the title role in Sweeney Todd and Billy in Carousel at Springstead Theatre; Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Theatre by the Sea; Abner in Li’l Abner at Bucks County Playhouse and Pocono Playhouse; Squash in Victor at Pocono Playhouse; Victoria Petr in The Toymaker at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and York Theatre; The Major General in The Pirates of Penzance at Kitchen Theatre Company; Christmas Future in The Christmas Carol at Westport Country Playhouse; The Constable in Fiddler on the Roof at Bucks County Playhouse; and Pedro in Man of La Mancha at Tallahassee Little Theatre. James has appeared on TV as Carl on 30 Rock opposite Steve Martin and Tina Fey, on the 2010 Tony Awards Live from Radio City Music Hall, PBS Great Performances, Live from Lincoln Center, the Late Show with David Letterman, and on film as Ballion in The Gift.
James is a graduate of the Musical Theatre program at Ithaca College in New York, where he was recently awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award, and studied at Florida State University, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and the Goethe Institute in Berlin.