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.
In the 2018-2019 season, Susan made her Prescott Pops Symphony debut in A Cole Porter Celebration, A Little Night Music – Celebrating the Musical Legacy of Stephen Sondheim with Sinfonietta Bel Canto, Schubert’s Mass in G and Liszt’s Coronation Mass with Elmhust Choral Union, and Bach’s Ich habe genug with the Concordia University Chamber Orchestra.
The 2017-2018 season included excerpts from Les Miserable and Phantom of the Opera as well as Christmas at the Acorn with Harbor Country Opera, The Animal Instinct (a program of animal inspired music) with Governors State University’s Opera Up Close, a recital for the Flossmoor Chapter of Lyric Opera of Chicago Guild,and Miriam’s Song of Triumph (Schubert) with the Chicago Bar Association Chorus. The 2016-2017 season included a concert in the inaugural season of the Midwest Mozart Festival, Bach’s Johannes-Passion with Grace Lutheran’s Bach Cantata Vespers, Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 with Depaul Community Chorus, Song to the Moon from Rusalka with Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with Fox Valley Symphony. In the 2015-2016 season, Susan returned to Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra to sing Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, sang Josephine in HMS Pinafore with the Savoyaires, Messe in H Moll with St. Luke Church in Chicago, Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity with Elmhurst Choral Union Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Elgin Master Chorale, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Floating Opera Company, Fauré’s Requiem with Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra and a recital with the Rock Valley College Orchestra.
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 with both The Savoyaires and North Shore Opera Hour, 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, Nedda in I Pagliacci with Intimate 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.
Ms. Nelson’s concert appearances include performances of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and Vesperae solennes de confessore, Music for Eighteen Musicians with eighth blackbird, Caldara’s Magnificat, Haydn’s Theresienmesse, Bach’s Magnificat, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Erik Satie’s Socrate, Bach’s Magnificat at First Congregational Church of LaGrange Schubert’s Mirjams Siegegesang, Handel’s Messiah with both the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and the Illiana Oratorio Society, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with Fort Wayne Philharmonic 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 nineteen cantatas (including BWV 199 – Mein Herz schwimmt in Blut) at Grace Lutheran River Forest’s Bach Cantata Vespers, where she has also sung both the Messe in H Moll and the Weihnachts Oratorium, and has been a regular soloist with Music of the Baroque. Her solo in Ravel’s Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis for the Grant Park Music Festival was praised by John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune: “Soprano Susan Nelson floated her solo in the second Ravel chanson, Three Beautiful Birds of Paradise, gorgeously.
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 featured on Music of the Baroque’s 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.