From: Spring Hill, Florida. LA Opera: Amenhotep III (Scribe) in Akhnaten (2016, debut); Terry in Breaking the Waves (2021, LAO On Now).
Zachary James, a 2022 Grammy nominee described as a "true stage animal" by Opera News, is an international opera, concert and cabaret singer, stage and screen actor and recording artist known for his “huge, robust bass” which “resonates with force” (Bach Track), “tremendous power and presence” (The Arts Desk, London) and “intrinsically beautiful”, “cavernous bass” with “oomph and range” (Opera News). Zach was named as the Broadway World 2010-2020 Vocalist and Performer of the Decade, the 2019 Breakout Opera Artist of the Year by Verismo magazine, the Most Innovative Opera Singer of 2019 by The Classical Post and was identified as an industry leader and accepted an invitation to become and official ambassador for Opera America.
His appearances for 2022 and beyond include the Immigration Officer in Jonathan Dove's Flight at Dallas Opera, the title role in Sweeney Todd with Opera Omaha, Fafner in Das Rheingold with Nashville Opera, Amenhotep III in Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera, and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with the Cincinnati Opera.
Zach started his career on Broadway and made his entrance into the opera world creating the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s opera The Perfect American at the Teatro Real in Madrid, a role he reprised for London’s English National Opera and Australia’s Opera Queensland and the Brisbane Festival.
A winner of the Lotte Lenya Competition, Zach has been engaged by London’s English National Opera (Amenhotep III in the Olivier Award-winning production of Akhnaten, Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American), Spain’s Teatro Real and Australia’s Opera Queensland (Abraham Lincoln), LA Opera (Amenhotep III), Opera Philadelphia (Terry in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves), Des Moines Metro Opera (Claggart in the Emmy Award-winning broadcast production of Billy Budd, Vodnik in Rusalka), Arizona Opera (Fafner in Das Rheingold), Fort Worth Opera (the Ghost in Mark Adamo’s Avow), Opera Roanaoke (Olin Blitch in Susannah, Osmin in The Abduction from the Seraglio, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd), Opera Ithaca (Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni), Shreveport Opera (the Pirate King), Anchorage Opera (Pooh-Bah in The Mikado), Union Avenue Opera (the title role of The Mikado), Schlossoper Haldenstein, Switzerland (Sparafucile in Rigoletto), Teatro Citta della Pieve (Oberon in the world premiere of Kristin Hevner’s Il Sogno), Central City Opera (the Commendatore), Ash Lawn Opera (the Bonze in Madama Butterfly) and Knoxville Opera (the Bonze, Gideon March in Little Women, Joe in The Most Happy Fella), Phoenicia International Festival of Voice (Howard in Do Not Go Gentle), Prototype Festival NYC (Señor del Norte in La Reina), Metropolis Opera Project (Oberon in the USA premiere of Il Sogno), Chutzpah Festival (Rebbe in A Blessing on the Moon), American Lyric Theatre (Mr. Beauregard in The Golden Ticket) and Illuminarts Miami (bass Soloist in The Little Matchgirl Passion).
His debuts in 2018 include the role of Frank Maurrant in Street Scene with Virginia Opera, Zaccaria in Nabucco with Union Avenue Opera, Fafner in Das Rheingold with Arizona Opera, the Ghost in Avow with Fort Worth Opera and more. In 2019 Zach returned to English National Opera for Akhnaten, made his Nashville Opera debut as the Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffmann and returned to Des Moines Metro Opera to play the Doctor in Wozzeck. Zach made his Metropolitan Opera debut in their 2019/2020 season reprising the role of Amenhotep III in Akhnaten and returned to Opera Philadelphia to play the Cook in The Love For Three Oranges. Cancelled or postponed productions due to the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic include Zach's Minnesota Opera debut in the world premiere of Edward Tulane, a Florentine Opera debut as Banquo in Macbeth, Beethove's Symphony No. 9 with the Cape Symphony and Southern New Jersey Philharmonic and returns to Des Moines Metro Opera to sing Jupiter in Platée and Virginia Opera for The Pirates of Penzance.
As a Broadway actor, Zach created the role of Lurch in the original Broadway cast of The Addams Family, Thomas Hassinger in the Tony Award winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, and sang Handel’s Messiah in the 2007 National Theatre of London Broadway transfer of Coram Boy. In addition to originating in three Broadway shows, Zach 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. He has performed with theater companies throughout the United States in roles including the title role of Sweeney Todd, Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Monster in Young Frankenstein, Billy in Carousel, Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods, Abner in Li’l Abner, Squash in Victor, Victoria and Petr in The Toymaker at theaters including the Ogunquit Playhouse, Bucks County Playhouse, York Theatre, Theatre by the Sea, Pocono Playhouse, the Kitchen Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Zach has appeared on TV as Carl on NBC's 30 Rock opposite Steve Martin and Tina Fey, as well as on Succession on HBO, Saturday Night Live on NBC, Murphy Brown on CBS, on the 2010 Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall, PBS Great Performances, Live from Lincoln Center, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and on film as Ballion in The Gift.
Zach's weekly talk show, What Happened Was, launched on TDO Network in early 2021 and celebrates the best of Broadway, opera and beyond with an all-star lineup of guests. A Florida native, Zach is a graduate of the Musical Theatre program at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he was recently awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award. Additional studies include Florida State University, University of Tennessee Knoxville and the Goethe Institut in Berlin.
Zach’s concert engagements include solo performances at Carnegie Hall, NYC’s Birdland, Don’t Tell Mama, Medicine Show and Joe’s Pub, Chicago’s Gorilla Tango, Noce Jazz Club in Des Moines, Civic Morning Musicals in Syracuse and performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of 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 Alan Gilbert (Sweeney Todd), NYC Ballet (Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer), American Symphony Orchestra (a 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). Zach's solo show about his time on the stages of NYC, Zachary James on Broadway, has been seen in Florida, Iowa, Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Pennsylvania and professionally filmed for digital release. The show won Zach both Vocalist of the Decade and Performer of the Decade in BroadwayWorld's 2020 Regional Awards.
Learn more at ZachJames.com.