Come rosa in su la spina: Apollo e Dafne (G.F. Handel)
James Demler, bass-baritone
Ann Schaefer, piano
Bass-baritone James Demler is known for his versatile range of repertory, spanning the operatic, oratorio, concert, and popular music genres. In 2022-23, Mr. Demler joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera to cover the Notary in Der Rosenkavalier, sang Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte with the Newport Classical Music Festival, and returned to the Berkshire Opera Festival as Benoit/Alcindoro in La bohème. In 2023-2024, Mr. Demler makes his Opera Orlando debut as Vodnik in Rusalka and will sing the title role in the oratorio Elijah with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale & Orchestra.
In 2021-22, Mr. Demler made his company and role debut as Odysseus in Mary Prescott/Cerise Lim Jacobs’ A Survivor’s Odyssey: The Journey of Penelope and Circe with White Snake Projects, covered the role of Howie Albert in Champion with Boston Lyric Opera, sang Caterpillar and King in the world premiere of ALICE, An Operatic Wonderland, and performed as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Reno Philharmonic.
He has been an annual favorite with Odyssey Opera, with recent roles as Pistol in Sir John in Love by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Jov in Dvorak’s Dimitrij, Pietro de Wissant in Donizetti’s L’Assedio di Calais, Geronte in Gounod’s Le médecin malgré lui, Gualtiero in Pacini’s Maria, Regina D’Inghilterra, and most recently the role of Earl of Arundel in the World Premiere of Arnold Rosner’s The Chronicle of Nine, a co-production with the Grammy Award winning BMOP Orchestra of Boston.
Other recent engagements have included performances with Boston Lyric Opera as the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth, Dikoy in Janacek’s Katya Kabanova, and Le Bailli in Massenet’s Werther. Mr. Demler has been featured numerous times as a soloist with the Boston Pops, with highlights that include Ralph Vaughn Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols, and The Boston Red Sox Baseball Cantata by George Kleinsinger, conducted by Keith Lockhart as part of their City of Champions series. Internationally Mr. Demler has sung the role of Don Alfonso in a concert version of Così fan tutte with the Tuscia Opera Festival in Viterbo, Italy, and in 2016 debuted at the Concertgebouw in Bruges, Belgium, and at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Germany, singing the Bass solos in Verdi’s Requiem. In addition, he made his film debut as Noah in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which opened the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and was also a guest Public Address Announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in June 2012.
Mr. Demler first gained national attention at Houston Grand Opera, where he appeared as Moralès in Carmen, De Bretigny in Manon, and Peter in Hansel and Gretel. He also debuted with the Houston Symphony, where he sang the role of Maestro in a concert version of Salieri’s rarely performed opera Prima la musica, poi le parole. In New York City he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Opera Orchestra of New York as Dikson in Boieldieu’s La Dame Blanche, and has returned to that venue singing prominent roles in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, von Weber’s Der Freischutz and Catalani’s La Wally, all with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Mr. Demler made his Canadian operatic debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Edmonton Opera, a role he went on to perform with Anchorage Opera. He also appeared in Anchorage as Marcello in La bohème, Valentin in Faust, a role which he debuted with the West Virginia Symphony, and he premiered songs by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams with the Anchorage Symphony. He appeared as Pish-Tush in The Mikado with Chautauqua Opera, sang the role of Danilo in The Merry Widow with Palm Beach Opera, and performed Silvio in Pagliacci with Chattanooga Opera. He also made debuts with Long Beach Opera as Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, and Bartley in Vaughn-Williams’ Riders to the Sea.
A formidable interpreter of the works of contemporary composers, Mr. Demler has premiered many new pieces, particularly those of Daron Hagen, with whom he premiered his operas Shining Brow, Bandanna, and The Antient Concert. He also created the role of Sgt. John Regan in Eric Sawyer’s The Scarlet Professor for the Five College Festival in Northhampton, Massachusetts in 2017, and most recently premiered Sawyer’s new musical My Evil Twin at the Ko Theatre Festival with his identical twin John.
Mr. Demler is featured in many recordings, including Odyssey Opera’s 2019 recording of The Importance of Being Ernest, Las Vegas Wind Orchestra’s 2000 recording of Bandanna with Albany Records, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra’s 2009 Naxos recording of Shining Brow, the Boston Secession’s 2005 Brave Records recording of Totentanz, and Camerata New York’s 1995 Newport Classics recording of The Consul. He has also been featured in Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus’s 2012 Live Radio Broadcast of Vaughn Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols, played on WGBH. Mr. Demler is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Boston University.