Zachary James Brings Wagner-Themed DAS RHINESTONE Burlesque To The Slipper Room
Wagnerian vaudeville, parody pastiche, and Bayreuth burlesque await guests at DAS RHINESTONE, an evening of serious singing, sequins, and plenty of WTF operatic moments to get you in or distract you from the holiday spirit. Zachary James, appearing courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera, brings Wagner's diva daddy Wotan to glittering, semi-nude life at this one night only event on December 23 at New York's The Slipper Room (167 Orchard Street).
James, who recently made his critically-acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in AKHNATEN, curates the Valhalla bash you didn't know you needed, featuring international opera singers Megan Nielson (Wagner Society of New York Award Winner, Miami Music Festival) as the horned, hojotoho-ing Brünnhilde and Alissa Anderson (Royal Danish Opera, Opera Philadelphia) as earth mama, Erde. The trio is joined by Slipper Room favorites, circus and burlesque artists Sean Blue (Cirque du Soleil, The Metropolitan Opera) and Kelsey Strauch (Cirque du Soleil, LA Opera, The Metropolitan Opera). Broadway's celebrity hair and makeup artist Dorothy Petersen (The Rose Tattoo, Hello, Dolly!, A Strange Loop) will provide her signature glam looks for the evening, and Arizona Opera's Michael Lewis will delight on the piano.
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.
Megan Nielson has triumphed in roles including Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly (Regina Opera), Nedda in Pagliacci (Opera Ithaca & Amore Opera), Tatiana in Eugene Onegin (Utopia Opera), the title role in Tosca (New York Opera, Opera Ithaca, Regina Opera, Chelsea Opera), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Festival Opera de San Luis - Mexico & Opera Ithaca), Judith in Bluebeard's Castle (Opera Ithaca), Mimì in La Bohème (Opera Ithaca, Symphony of the Mountains, CoOperative), Chrysothemis in Elektra (Manhattan Opera Studio), the title role in Suor Angelica (Chelsea Opera & Manhattan Opera Studio), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Fiordigligi in Così fan tutte, and Meg March in Little Women (Knoxville Opera). In 2019 Ms. Nielson performed Salome's Final scene from Strauss' opera in recital at Juilliard with pianist Dror Baitel and was chosen to participate in New York Singing Teachers Association Jennifer Rowley's master class. She also was a featured soloist for Connecticut Opera and performed on their Star-Crossed Lovers concert at the Sanibel Music Festival. In 2020, she will join Miami Music Festival as a featured performer on the Celebrity Edge Cruise alongside Eglise Gutierrez.
During 2018 she returned to Miami to perform Elsa in Act II of Lohengrin, fully staged with orchestra at the Symphony Center. While in residence, she worked with director Antoine Wagner (Wagner's great-great grandson), Robert Morrison, Linda Watson, and Alan Held. South Florida Classical Review said of her performance, "As Elsa, the soprano Megan Nielson sang with tones steely... with deep emotion and impassioned tones." She performed a solo recital, The Airs Remain at the University of Houston and Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY with pianist Jessica Myers and directed by Ellen Jackson the program included Strauss's Four Last Songs, and works by Chaminade, Laitman, Resphighi and Cesti.
Ms. Nielson was first chosen to participate in the Miami Wagner Institute in 2017, working with Brad Moore, Peter Grunberg, Alan Held, and Christine Brewer and performed the 3rd Norn in Götterdämmerung's, as well as covering Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Adrienne Arsht Center and sang Elsa's Euch Lüften from Lohengrin in New Amsterdam Opera's Wagner's Concert with Keith Chambers and performed highlights from Madama Butterfly and Eugene Onegin with full orchestra at St Jean Baptiste Church's Gala concert in Manhattan.
Voce di Meche declared her "superb in the title role" of Suor Angelica and for her performance of Nedda said, "Notable was her full rich tone and affecting acting. Just watching her increasing panic as the drama progressed was a lesson in acting." She's praised by Opera News for her "engaging" presence and full "bloom". Ms. Nielson is a versatile singer who thrives in traditional repertoire as well as in new works. She created the role of Ermia in the World Premiere of Kristin Hevner Wyatt's Il Sogno with Metropolis Opera Project in NYC and also sang the role of Melisande in Sheldon Harnick's rarely performed opera, Frustration. In 2018, she was a resident artist with the Orchard Project in Saratoga Springs, NY. Competitions include district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Austria's Meistersinger Competition, The Orpheus Competition, winner of the University of Tennessee Concerto Competition and a Career Bridges Grantee, the Mangin Memorial Award at Shreveport Opera's Competition in 2016, and finalist with the Jensen Foundation in 2017.
She received her Bachelor's of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Kansas City - Missouri and her Masters in Voice and Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has enjoyed residencies with young artist programs including Sarasota Opera, Knoxville Opera, Bay View Music Festival, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, and Princeton's CoOPERAtive. Ms. Nielson is a student of Ms. Laura Brooks Rice and coaches with Mr. Thomas Bagwell.
Alissa Anderson has been hailed for her "deliciously over the top" and "powerful mezzo" by Opera News, and wields her comic prowess, striking features, and her "powerful vocalism" to great acclaim. Ms. Anderson achieved a considerable success and was celebrated for being "impeccably prepared" and "splendid in every way" when she stepped in as Florence Pike in Santa Fe Opera's Albert Herring under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. In the 2019/2020 season, Ms. Anderson will make her company and role debuts with Opera Philadelphia as Princess Clarissa in Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges as well as both her role and European debuts as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with The Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen. In the spring she returns to Opera Birmingham to sing the role of Madame de la Haltière in Massenet's Cendrillion. The 2017-2018 season featured her debut with Opera Birmingham and Opera Louisiana in the title role of La tragédie de Carmen, her debut with Opera Delaware as Frugola/La Zia Principessa in Il trittico, and her debut with Utah Festival Opera as The Witch in Into the Woods. The 2018-2019 season includes Ms. Anderson's return to San Diego Opera as Maddalena in Rigoletto, her debut with Opera San Antonio as Marthe in Faust, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro and Ms. Andrew/The Bird Woman in Mary Poppins in a return to Utah Festival Opera, and the starring role in the world premiere of the opera Debussy & Ravel: The Flowers of Evil with Mercury Chamber Orchestra at the Wortham Center in Houston, TX.
The 2016-2017 season saw her debut with San Diego Opera as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, a New Year's Eve gala concert with Opera Southwest, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with North Carolina Opera, Verdi's Requiem with the Houston Camerata, and La Zia Principessa/Ciesca in Il trittico with the Opera Company of Middlebury. Other recent performances for Ms. Anderson include La Zia Principessa/Zita in Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi with Opera Santa Barbara, Cleo in The Most Happy Fella with Tulsa Opera, Mother Goose in The Rake's Progress with Utah Opera, and her debut with Houston Grand Opera's East + West series in River of Light by composer Jack Perla and librettist Chitra Divakaruni. In addition, she made, her "comically perfect" debut as Mistress Quickly in Falstaff with Opera in the Heights, Lampito in Lysistrata with Fort Worth Opera, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Santa Barbara, Emilia in Otello and Zulma in L'italiana in Algeri with Opera Southwest, Madame de la Haltiere in Cendrillion and the Mother in Hansel and Gretel with the Santa Fe Concert Association, Maddalena in Rigoletto with Opera in the Heights, and her return to Santa Fe Opera where she sang the Society Woman in The Last Savage. Recent concert engagements have included John Adams' Grand Pianola Music with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with Concordia University Symphony Orchestra, her European concert debut as mezzo soloist in Verdi's Requiem with performances throughout Germany and France and her Lincoln Center debut as the mezzo soloist in Mahler's 2nd Symphony.
At Sarasota Opera, Ms. Anderson performed the roles of Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, and Flora in La Traviata. As a resident and principal artist with Fort Worth Opera she performed the roles of Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Angel Trio in Angels in America. Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News praised her 2010 performance of Verdi's Requiem with the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra stating, "Mezzo Alissa Anderson supplied aptly rich tones and an awesome chest voice."
Other notable engagements include her Tisbe in La Cenerentola and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera New Jersey, Flora in La Traviata and Mercedes in Carmen with Pensacola Opera, and Flora in La Traviata with Nevada Opera. As a young artist, she performed with the Santa Fe Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Ashlawn-Highland Opera, as well as spending three consecutive summers at the Seagle Music Colony where she sang the title role in Carmen, Anita in West Side Story, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Alma March in Little Women, Woman in Marry Me A Little, and Hedy La Rue in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Ms. Anderson holds her Master of Music in Opera Performance from The University of Maryland and her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of North Texas.
Kelsey Strauch is a multi-disciplinary performing artist specializing in circus arts with a background in visual art. She has performed with The Metropolitan Opera as a juggler, stilt walker and side-show artist in their productions of Mefistofele, Cosi Fan Tutte and in the Olivier Award winning production of Akhnaten and has also performed with Cirque du Soleil, Los Angeles Opera, The International Juggler's Association and appeared on the Netflix Original Series, Orange Is The New Black. Kelsey's solo show, Flourish, has been seen at Renaissance festivals around the country. Her broad educational pursuits in painting, dance, yoga, circus arts and acting has sent her around the country to institutions including The University of Oregon, The Celebration Barn, Circus Warehouse, Pilobolus Dance Workshop, Earth Yoga NYC and The New England Center for Circus Arts. She has appeared in commercials for Manhattan Mini Storage, Blade, Speks, Bed Gear, YO1 Luxury Wellness and Sigura Viduras. Follow along on Instagram @strauchabout
Dorothy Petersen made her Broadway debut doing makeup for global mega-star Bette Midler and Tony Award winning stage and screen icon, Donna Murphy in Hello, Dolly! She is currently working with Marisa Tomei on The Rose Tattoo on Broadway and was recently on the team for the smash Off-Broadway hit, A Strange Loop and The Public Theatre's Hercules in Central Park. Dorothy's film, tv, commercial and fashion credits are voluminous and she transformed singers as Metropolis Opera Project and Opera Ithaca's resident makeup artist for several seasons.
Michael Lewis joined Arizona Opera as a pianist and coach after attending Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ where he studied with Russel Ryan and received his Master's degree in Collaborative Piano. Before his time in Arizona, Michael was the Assistant Music Director and Chorus Master at Tri-Cities Opera of Binghamton, NY where he served as principal coach and head pianist on Carmen, Don Giovanni, Die Fledermaus, Rigoletto, l'Italiana in Algeri, and Faust. While holding this position, he also was on staff as Adjunct Lecturer at Binghamton University. As a vocal coach, Michael has worked with The Glimmerglass Festival, Aspen Summer Music Festival, International Vocal Arts Institute, Mill City Summer Opera, CoOPERAtive Program, and Ithaca College School of Music. During his undergraduate studies in vocal performance at Ithaca College, Michael assisted in the creation of the first student-run opera company at the college in which he served as Assistant Music Director and vocal coach. Along with performing, Michael is also a composer whose works have been performed throughout the United States and Australia.