“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 US. She made her début with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, her début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, her Carnegie Hall début in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic début alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy.
This summer, Ms. Nansteel performed the role of Mother/Ensemble in the world première of Blind Injustice with Cincinnati Opera and the role of Brigitta in Bard Music Festival’s Die tote stadt in concert.
This coming season she will make a series of returns to the Washington National Opera as Emilia in Otello and Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She will also make her long awaited role début as Amneris in Aida with Opera Tampa and Opera Grand Rapids and will create the role of Miriam in the World Premiere of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings with Opera Theater St. Louis.
Since her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has returned for Nabucco, Il Trovatore, and as Siegrune in Die Walküre. She originated the role of Lucinda in the world première of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s thrilling 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 and Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Berta in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia 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 Die Zauberflöte, Curra (cover Preziosilla) in La forza del destino, Paula (cover) in Florencia en el Amazonas, as part of a world-première performance of Douglas Pew and Dara Weinberg’s new opera Penny, as well as The Cat in Tony Award winning composer 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, and as the Marquise of Birkenfield in La fille du regiment with 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 Maestro Xian Zhang; gala concerts with Opera America, at the Smithsonian, and additional venues throughout New York; 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 début as La suora infermiera in Suor Angelica, sang Juno and Ino in Händel’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 Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La damnation de 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. In June 2020, she received the Thelma Steward Endowed Artist Alumni Award from the Opera Theater of St. Louis.