From: Havelock, North Carolina. LA Opera: Aunt Lou in Highway 1, USA (2024); soloist in Fire and Blue Sky (2024).
“A formidable display of vocal power and dramatic assurance,” mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel is posed for international stardom having already performed in almost all of the leading opera companies in the U.S. She made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, her Carnegie Hall debut in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic debut alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. She performed the role of Mother in the world premiere of Blind Injustice, by Scott Davenport Richards, with Cincinnati Opera which was commercially released on the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Fanfare Cincinnati label, as well as participated in Glimmerglass Opera Festival’s digital production of Kamala Sankaram's Jungle Book as Raksha.
Her appearances for the 2022/23 season include a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Annina in La Traviata, a house debut with the San Francisco Opera in Eugene Onegin and Dialogues of the Carmelites, a role debut as Amneris in Aida for Opera Grand Rapids, perform Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel for New Orleans Opera, Verdi’s Requiem for Orchestra Iowa, and the Mother Abbess in Suor Angelica for Opera Omaha.
In the 2021/22 season, Ms. Nansteel returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor and the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas. Nansteel performed Azucena in Il Trovatore with Toledo Opera, Sally in Kevin Puts’ new opera The Hours with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and joined Seattle Opera in their production of Blue. In concert, she debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Rossweisse in Die Walküre under Gustavo Dudamel, in addition to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Milwaukee Symphony, Finger Lakes Opera Tenth Anniversary Gala, and Hartmann’s Symphony No. 1 with the Orchestra Now at Carnegie Hall and the Fisher Center under Leon Botstein. In the spring and summer of 2021, she performed Azucena in concert performances of Il Trovatore with Opera Tampa and returned to Santa Fe Opera as Filippyevna in Eugene Onegin.
Since her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has returned for Nabucco, Il Trovatore, as Siegrune in Die Walküre and in her final production of 2020, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She originated the role of Lucinda in the world première of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera. Other notable engagements include Granma in The Grapes of Wrath with the Michigan Opera Theatre, a reprisal of the role of Lucinda in Cold Mountain with North Carolina Opera, the role of Grace in The Summer King with Michigan Opera Theatre, Second Lady in The Magic Flute with the Pacific Symphony, the Mother in The Consul with Opera Saratoga, Jake Heggie’s The Work at Hand for the Mainly Mozart Festival, Nettie Fowler in Carousel and Elvira Griffiths in An American Tragedy, as well as Mary in The Flying Dutchman with Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Berta in The Barber of Seville with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program.
Ms. Nansteel completed the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, where she performed many roles including Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Curra (cover Preziosilla) in La Forza del Destino, Paula (cover) in Florencia en el Amazonas, as part of a world-premiere performance of Douglas Pew and Dara Weinberg’s new opera Penny, as well as the Cat in Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me. As a mainstage artist, Nansteel returned there as Flora in La Traviata, Dame Marthe in Faust, which she also performed at Dayton Opera, as Emilia in Otello, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and as the Marquise of Birkenfield in The Daughter of the Regiment with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which is featured in the documentary film RBG.
Sought after for her performances on the concert stage, Ms. Nansteel has 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 Xian Zhang; the role of Brigitta in Bard Music Festival’s Die tote stadt in concert; and various additional concerts including Stravinsky’s Les noces, Penderecki’s Credo, and Händel’s Israel and Egypt.
A house favorite of Seattle Opera, Ms. Nansteel made her main stage debut as La suora infermiera in Suor Angelica, sang Juno and Ino in Handel’s Semele, Foreign Woman in The Consul and, as a former member of Seattle Opera’s young artist program, Giulietta in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno and Maddalena in a performance of Rigoletto.
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 The Barber of Seville, Marguerite in Berlioz’s The Damnation of 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 Diana Soviero.
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.