Zachary James, internationally renowned for his “huge, robust bass,” which “resonates with force” is a performer of remarkable talent and artistry. 2019 season highlights included a celebrated turn as Amenhotep III in Akhnaten by Philip Glass with the English National Opera, The Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Nashville Opera, and The Doctor in Wozzeck with Des Moines Metro Opera. Mr. James closes out his 2019 season as The Cook in The Love for Three Oranges with Opera Philadelphia, and his debut on the Metropolitan Opera roster, reprising the role of Amenhotep III in their house debut of Akhnaten and covering the role of The Doctor in Wozzeck. Highly sought after and multifaceted as a performer, Mr. James’ 2020 season engagements include Lucius in the world premiere of Edward Tulane with the Minnesota Opera, as well as Banquo from Macbeth with Florentine Opera and his debut as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In the summer of 2020, he will return to Des Moines Metro Opera as Jupiter in Platée and in future seasons, Mr. James will make his Cincinnati Opera and Dallas Opera debuts.
Mr. James has a wealth of experience bringing to life the iconic warhorses of the bass repertoire, including mainstage performances of John Claggart in Billy Budd, Vodnik in Rusalka. Fafner in Das Rheingold, Olin Blitch in Susannah, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Alidoro in La cenerentola, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle, Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Il Bonzo in Madama Butterfly, The Ghost in Mark Adamo’s Avow, Frank Maurrant in Street Scene, The Mikado in The Mikado, and Zaccaria in Nabucco.
Also an excellent musician, Mr. James is a sought-after interpreter of new works and less performed works. Mr. James created the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at the Teatro Real in Madrid; a role he reprised for London’s English National Opera, Australia’s Opera Queensland, and the Brisbane Festival. He created the role of Terry in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves, Oberon in the world premiere of Kristin Hevner’s Il Sogno, as well as the role of Lurch in the Original Broadway Cast of The Addams Family.
A prodigious performer of musical theater, Mr. James won the Lotte Lenya Competition in 2009 and has gone on to perform both on and off Broadway. Chief among these engagements was his run as Thomas Hassinger in the Tony Award winning Original Broadway Revival Cast of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, as well as singing Handel’s Messiah in the 2007 National Theatre of London Broadway transfer, Coram Boy. In addition to originating three Broadway shows, Mr. James played Off-Broadway as Pasquale in The Most Happy Fella and Jo-Jo in Irma la Douce, both with Encores! at New York City Center. Other theatre credits include Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Billy in Carousel, Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods, Abner in Li’l Abner, Squash in Victor, and Victoria and Petr in The Toymaker at multiple venues including Bucks County Playhouse, The York Theatre, Theatre By The Sea, Pocono Playhouse, The Kitchen Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, and The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Additionally, Mr. James has appeared on TV as Carl on 30 Rock opposite Steve Martin and Tina Fey, on the series finale of Murphy Brown as the Secret Serviceman to Mike Pence, on the 2010 Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall, on PBS Great Performances, on Live from Lincoln Center, on the Late Show with David Letterman, and in The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mr. James also appeared on film as Ballion in The Gift.
Highly experienced on the concert stage, Mr. James’ engagements include solo performances at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Don’t Tell Mama, Medicine Show, Joe’s Pub, Chicago’s Gorilla Tango, Noce Jazz Club in Des Moines, and Hawaii’s Hoku Concert Series. He has also given solo performances with Sun Valley Opera, Eckerd College, Ithaca College, Opera Ithaca, and Civic Morning Musicals in Syracuse. Orchestral credits include The Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Action in West Side Story, Bass Soloist in Bernstein’s Mass), NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo (Action in West Side Story), The New York Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Alan Gilbert (Sweeney Todd), the NYC Ballet (Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer), American Symphony Orchestra (Kurt Weill Celebration), Symphony of the Mountains (Colline in La bohème), MasterVoices NYC (Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance) and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (Buff in The Impresario).
A Florida native, Mr. James is a graduate of the Musical Theatre program at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award. Additional studies include Florida State University, U-T Knoxville, and the Goethe Institute in Berlin.