Zachary James Releases Original Video Rendition of Poe’s ‘The Raven’

By Chris Ruel

Broadway, opera, and television star Zachary James has released an original video capture of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”

James’ collaborator, multi-genre composer Kristin Hevner, penned a lush and haunting cinematic score for the bass-baritone’s portrayal of the tortured poet, lending wonderful ambiance as the audience takes a visual trip through Poe’s masterpiece.

Dressed in mid-19th-century garb and fully made up in poet’s likeness, James’ video performance fuses song, film, and theatrics to create a multidimensional experience aimed at delighting devotees across the art forms, including literature buffs.

According to “The Raven” press release, James and Hevner hope that work pushes boundaries and shows the possibilities of creating art during the ongoing pandemic.

“The Raven” is part of James’ upcoming visual album, “Call Out,” a recording akin to The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and Beyonce’s recent hit, “Black is King.” “Call Out,” whose tracks were all composed by women, has a mid-December release date.

James’ multifaceted talent has been showcased on Broadway, where he originated the role of Lurch in the original Broadway cast of “The Addams Family;” on television, where he appeared in sitcoms such as “30 Rock” and “Murphy Brown;” and, most recently, during his much-praised house debut at the Met, portraying Amenhotep III/The Scribe in Philip Glass’ “Akhnaten.” James, a passionate advocate of new opera, has also premiered works by prominent contemporary composers such as Missy Mazzoli, Paola Prestini, Dana Wilson, and Andy Teirstein. James was recognized as the Most Innovative Opera Singer of 2019 by Classical Post, Breakout Artist of the Year by Verismo Magazine, and one of the top 30 most influential LGBTQIA artists by OperaWire.

Hevner’s compositions have been performed internationally and throughout the United States at venues from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center, Crash Mansion to Birdland, and span the musical genres of classical and contemporary opera, symphonic music, electronic dance music, hip-hop, rap, and atonal rock. Hevner’s six operatic works include three collaborations with award-winning librettist Royce Vavrek and an original opera in Italian, “Il Sogno,” based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Hevner is a classically trained pianist whose commercial work includes composing for film and television.

The 20-minute work is available now on YouTube and Apple Music.