Equally at home on the operatic stage or in concert repertoire, American lyric soprano Susan Nelson has been praised by critics for her “full, powerful voice – agile and pliant” as well as her interpretations, called both “sensitive and moving” and “full of life and vigor.” She showcases versatility and vocal beauty in repertoire from Bach and Mozart to verismo and contemporary opera, as well as light opera and popular music.
Ms. Nelson’s busy opera schedule has included both Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Nedda in Pagliacci with Opera Delaware, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra, Yum Yum in The Mikado and sang Josephine in HMS Pinafore with The Savoyaires, Geraldine in A Hand of Bridge and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief with Governors State University’s Opera Up Close, Bubikopf in Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis with the New Millennium Orchestra, Estelle in No Exit with Chicago Opera Vanguard, the title role of Rusalka with Opera for the Young, the Mistress in Peter and Paul in the Land of Nod with Chicago Folks Operetta, Micaëla in Carmen with Bowen Park Opera, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Opera Illinois. She has also covered four small roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago including a Flower Maiden in Parsifal and a Page in Tannhäuser.
A sought after recitalist, she has performed for the Nineteenth Century Club of Oak Park, Rock Valley College, and the Flossmoor Chapter of Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as an animal themed program with Governors State University, pops features with Harbor Country Opera, Prescott Pops and Sinfonietta Bel Canto and classical performances with Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Midwest Mozart Festival.
Ms. Nelson’s concert appearances include performances of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and Vesperae solennes de confessore, Fauré’s Requiem with Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Elgin Master Chorale, Music for Eighteen Musicians with eighth blackbird, Caldara’s Magnificat, Haydn’s Theresienmesse and Paukenmesse, Bach’s Magnificat, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Erik Satie’s Socrate, Schubert’s Mass in G, Liszt’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah (Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Choral Union and the Illiana Oratorio Society) Miriam’s Song of Triumph (Schubert), Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang and Psalm 22, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and holiday concerts with both the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and the Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared regularly as the soprano soloist in twenty-two cantatas at Grace Lutheran River Forest’s Bach Cantata Vespers, also performing the St. John Passion, Messe in H Moll and the Weihnachts Oratorium, and has been a regular soloist with Music of the Baroque.
During the pandemic, Susan recorded and self produced 500 songs by women composers/songwriters of all different genres, ranging from Hildegard von Bingen to Billie Eilish.
Ms. Nelson holds degrees from the University of Illinois and the Eastman School of Music. Ms. Nelson tied for third place for the 2014 The American Prize in Vocal Performance Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award in the Professional Opera Division, was also a 2014 Finalist for the Chicago Oratorio Award by the same organization, and is a recipient of a Career Encouragement Award from the MacAllister Foundation. Ms. Nelson is also a soloist on Music of the Baroque’s Out of Night, Jubilate and Mother and Child CDs, Peace Be (works by David Jennings) and the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus’ first a cappella CD, Songs of Smaller Creatures and Other American Choral Works, which was released in 2012.