Hailed as a “rich voiced, expressive mezzo-soprano” by San Francisco Classical Voice and “appealingly direct and honest in tone and bearing,” by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, Nina Yoshida Nelsen made her New York City Opera debut with great success as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, conducted by George Manahan.
In the 2021-2022 season Nina Yoshida Nelsen makes her Boston Lyric Opera debut as Mama Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana. She also makes her Bard Opera debut singing Mother Chen in Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier, with performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center. She then returns to Opera Santa Barbara for a double bill of El Amor Brujo and Frugola in Il Tabarro. Nina makes her Chicago Opera Theater debut singing Queen Queen Sophine in Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus. In the spring, she sings Mama in Jack Perla’s An American Dream at Kentucky Opera and the Alto Solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.
In the 2019-2020 season Nina Yoshida Nelsen will make her Portland Opera debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She will also perform the world premiere of Blood Moon at Prototype Festival in New York City. Nina will return to Chicago Lyric Opera to cover Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and will return to the Santa Barbara Symphony to perform Beethoven’s Mass in C. Ms. Nelsen will reprise the role of Khanh in Huang Ruo’s Bound at The Juilliard School.
In the 2018-2019 season, Nina made her Lyric Opera Chicago debut as Mama in Jack Perla’s An American Dream. She also reprised the same role at Anchorage Opera. Nina returned to Opera Santa Barbara as Tituba in The Crucible and also sang in their 25th Anniversary Gala concert.
In the 2017-2018 season, Ms. Nelsen returned to Seattle Opera singing the role of Mama in An American Dream. She also made a company debut with Manitoba Opera singing Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She performed Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Grand Junction and Flagstaff Symphony Orchestras and returned to both the Santa Barbara and Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestras to perform the alto solos in Mozart’s Requiem.
In the 2016-2017 season, Nina returned to the Santa Barbara Symphony as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven Symphony #9 and debuted with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra as the Mezzo Soloist in the Verdi Requiem. In the 2014-2015 season, Nina was thrilled to return to Utah Opera to perform Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She then made her debut singing the same role with The Atlanta Opera. She also sang Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Southwest Florida Symphony. Nina made her Seattle Opera mainstage debut summer 2015 singing the role of Mama in the world premier of An American Dream.
In the 2013-2014 season, Ms. Nelsen returned to Houston Grand Opera to sing Khanh in the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s new opera Bound. Nina and also returned to Opera Santa Barbara where she made a role debut singing the Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul. Ms Nelsen made her role debut in Verdi’s Requiem with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and, with and her husband hornist Jeff Nelsen, she performed their pops show on Mother’s Day 2014, “Dancing and Romancing” with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.
In the 2012-2013 season, Nina Yoshida Nelsen sang Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice and Opera Santa Barbara. She also made her Nashville Symphony debut singing Handel’s Messiah. In spring 2013, Ms. Nelsen performed in the world premiere of Memory Stone, a chamber opera at Houston Grand Opera and and returned to Carnegie Hall to sing the alto solo in Beethoven’s Symphony #9.
In the 2011-2012 season, Nina Yoshida Nelsen made her debut with Sarasota Opera singing Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and she also made her Avery Fisher Hall debut singing Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Ms. Nelsen was also seen as the Mezzo Soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Santa Barbara Symphony.
In the 2010-2011 season Nina was seen as the Mezzo Soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with the Santa Fe Concert Association, as the Mezzo Soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Peoria Symphony and made her European debut singing Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at Royal Albert Hall in London, England.
Nina made an important debut at Utah Opera in March of 2009, singing Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. The mezzo-soprano is the recipient of a 2008 Encouragement Award from the Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition. In 2006, Ms. Nelsen was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, where she studied with Bill Schuman. At AVA, her roles included: Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, Smeton in Anna Bolena, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Kabanicha in Katya Kabanova, Annina in La traviata, Larina in Eugene Onegin, and Erika in Vanessa.
Other noteworthy recent engagements include: Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette with Opera New Jersey, Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible with Utah Festival Opera, the title role in Carmen and the role of Antonia’s Mother in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Komische Kammeroper of Munich, and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Santa Barbara.
Nina Yoshida Nelsen spent the 2004-2005 season as an Artist-In-Residence with Orange County Opera, where she performed the role of the Marquise de Berkenfeld in La fille du régiment in their educational outreach program. Ms. Nelsen made her debut with Opera Providence in 2002 as Tisbe in La cenerentola, and subsequently appeared with the company as Dorabella in their English version of Così fan tutte.
Other notable roles include Idamante in Idomeneo, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Lulu in Lukas Foss’ The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, all of which she performed with the Opera Institute at Boston University.
In 2005, Ms. Nelsen was a National Finalist in the prestigious Loren L. Zachary Society Vocal Competition, and she was also a National Finalist in the 2006 and 2008 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. In 2004, Ms. Nelsen won first prize in the Performing Arts Foundation Vocal Competition, the Profant Foundation Vocal Competition and the Santa Barbara Foundation Vocal Competition.
Nina makes her home in Bloomington, Indiana, where she lives with her husband Jeff and their sons Rhys and Blair.