NANCY GUSTAFSON has been acclaimed in most of the leading opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, the Opéra National, Paris, Chicago Lyric Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, and many others. She has enjoyed an especially close relationship with the Vienna State Opera; in 2001 she was honored there with the title of Kammersängerin. Born in Evanston, Illinois, Gustafson completed her musical studies at Northwestern University. She was soon appearing in leading opera houses in North America, and made her debut at Chicago Lyric Opera as Marguerite in Faust, at the Metropolitan Opera as Musetta in La bohème, and at the San Francisco Opera in Wagner’s Ring.
Gustafson made her European operatic debut at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and this was followed by her debuts at the Bavarian State Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in Wagner’s Ring, at the Paris Opéra as Marguerite, at the Teatro alla Scala as Eva in Die Meistersinger, and at the Vienna State Opera as Violetta in La traviata. She returned on numerous occasions to all these theaters and in Vienna was heard in most of the roles in her repertoire, ranging from the title role in Arabella and Salome in Herodiade to Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes and several others. Gustafson has also been often identified with the soprano heroines of Janácek’s Jenufa and Katya Kabanova. She first sang Katya at the Glyndebourne Festival under Andrew Davis and then repeated the role in theaters including the Vienna State Opera and Opera National, Paris. She also appeared as Jenufa at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Châtelet under Sir Simon Rattle. The role of Lisa in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades entered her repertoire at the Glyndebourne Festival. She has also frequently performed at the Hamburg State Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Grand Théâtre de Genève, both the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Staatsoper Berlin, and the Semper Oper, Dresden.
In recent seasons, Nancy Gustafson has added several dramatic soprano roles to her repertoire. She sang the title role in Strauss’ Salome at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan in 2007 and later repeated the role at the Staatsoper Berlin, sang her first Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in St. Gallen and then with the Deutsche Oper Berlin on tour in the Far East. She also sang Elsa in Lohengrin at the Dallas Opera, Leonore in Fidelio in Bonn, and Schoenberg’s Erwartung at the Chicago Opera Theater. Gustafson also appeared as Tsarina Alexandra in the Los Angeles Opera’s world premiere of Deborah Drattell’s Nicholas and Alexandra opposite Plácido Domingo. She returned to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the world premiere of Lorin Maazel’s opera, 1984, and subsequently performed the work at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan as well, on both occasions under the musical leadership of the composer himself.
Throughout her career Nancy Gustafson has had the privilege to collaborate with some of the most important conductors of our day such as Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Colin Davis, Christian Thielemann, Christoph von Dohnányi, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Marcello Viotti, and many more. She has appeared internationally in concert and recently won special praise for her interpretations of the Four Last Songs of Strauss and the Final Scene in Salome in concerts with the New York Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel.
Her recordings include Das Rheingold with Cleveland Orchestra (Decca), Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and La bohème (both for Teldec), Lehár’s Der Tsarevitch and The Land of Smiles for Telarc, and a live recording of Herodiade with Vienna State Opera opposite Plácido Domingo.