Zachary Nelson, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, studied vocal performance at The Catholic University of America, subsequently attending the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
The 2023-2024 season features a mix of role debuts and favorites for Mr. Nelson. Returning to Palm Beach Opera, he makes his role debut as the Four Villains in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann. Other appearances include Florentine Opera as Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore; Atlanta Opera as Marcello in La bohème, and Arizona Opera as Leporello in Don Giovanni. In concert he joins the Utah Symphony for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Act 3 of Berg’s Wozzeck, and appears with the Sag Harbor Song Festival in recital. During the summer of 2024 he debuts the role of Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier with Santa Fe Opera, his 11th opera with the company. Further ahead, he returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Last season, Mr. Nelson made an anticipated role debut as Alberich in Atlanta Opera’s new production of Das Rheingold. Additionally, he returned to the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni with North Carolina Opera, joined the Lubbock Symphony as Sharpless (role debut) in Madama Butterfly, and returned to Santa Fe Opera, singing Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande.
Highlights of recent seasons include Marcello in La bohème with New Orleans Opera and the Jacksonville Symphony, Escamillo in Carmen and Ping in Turandot with Palm Beach Opera, the title role in Sweeney Todd with Des Moines Metro Opera, and Doug in Everest with Chicago Opera Theater.
A regular performer with Lyric Opera of Chicago, the baritone has been featured at the Lyric as a soloist in their widely attended annual Millennium Park concert, followed by performances of Marcello in La bohème. He has also performed Ping in Turandot, Donner in Das Rheingold and covered Enrico Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor and Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore.
Other notable US appearances include: Santa Fe Opera as Marcello in La bohème, Enrico Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Malatesta in Laurent Pelly's Don Pasquale, and Angelotti in Tosca; Arizona Opera as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro; San Francisco Opera in Carmen as Escamillo; Pittsburgh Opera debut as Belcore in L'elisir d'amore, and Quinault in Adriana Lecouvreur with Opera Orchestra of New York. He has appeared in concert with Leah Crocetto at New York City's Morgan Library under the auspices of the George London Foundation, essayed Bloch's Sacred Service with Voices of Ascension in New York City, and joined Steven Blier's “Killer B's” with the New York Festival of Song.
Starting in the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Nelson joined the ensemble of the Dresden Semperoper, where he performed the roles of Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro, Marcello in La bohème, Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Guglielmo in a new production of Così fan tutte. Subsequent performances there include Paolo in Simon Boccanegra, Escamillo in Carmen, and he reprised the roles of Gugliemo in Così fan tutte, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Marcello in La bohème, and Figaro in both Il barbiere di Siviglia and premiered a new production of Le nozze di figaro. Other notable international engagements include: Escamillo in Carmen with Den Norske Opera, the title role of Le nozze di Figaro with the Aix-en-Provence Festival on tour in Manama, Bahrain, and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Nagoya. He made a debut at the Salzburg Landestheater, and returned to the Canadian Opera Company as Escamillo after making his debut as Masetto in Dmitri Tcherniakov's Don Giovanni.
Awards Mr. Nelson has garnered are: The George London Award from the 2012 George London Foundation, 1st prize from the 2012 Opera Index Competition, The 2012 Liederkranz Foundation Competition (General Opera Division), and the 2012 Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. Also, 2nd prize from the 2011 Gerda Lissner Competition, the 2011 Giulio Gari Foundation, and the 2011 Loren Zachary Competition.