"...pouring pleasing panache into Escmillo's 'Toreador' song."
-St. Paul Pioneer Press
Irish-American baritone John Allen Nelson is known for his “deliciously hearty sound” with “uniformity from top to bottom” paired with his clean musicality. His “full body approach” to acting always makes him an audience favorite.
Recently, Mr. Nelson appeared as Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte with the Bar Harbor Music Festival and made his company debut as the Ufficiale and Figaro cover in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Finger Lakes Opera. Last season, Mr. Nelson revisited the title role in Don Giovanni in a groundbreaking pandemic era live production via Zoom with Kor Productions. In the 2019/2020 season, Mr. Nelson debuted with Opera Santa Barbara as Di Cosimo in Il Postino and Yamadori, the Imperial Commissioner, and the cover of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, his appearance as Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette with Opera Santa Barbara was canceled, as was his return to Odyssey Opera as the Earl of Essex in Edward German’s comedy Merrie England. In the 2018/2019 season, Mr. Nelson made his New York City Opera debut as Giordano in the world premiere of Stonewall, and also debuted with Boston Lyric Opera in a workshop of a new Hamlet. He returned to his home state of Minnesota for Opera on the Lake’s summer production of Die Fledermaus, in which he portrayed Dr. Falke.
In 2017, Mr. Nelson made his Utah Opera debut as Marcello as a last-minute fill-in in their season-opening production of La Bohème. He also appeared as Escamillo in Peter Brook's The Tragedy of Carmen with Skylark Opera Theatre and as Moralès in Carmen with the Lakes Area Music Festival. He made his Odyssey Opera debut as King Edward III in Donizetti's L'assedio di Calais, as well as his Rhode Island Civic Orchestra debut as the Bass Soloist for Handel's Messiah in the fall.
In the 2015/16 season, Mr. Nelson appeared as Pa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath with Sugar Creek Opera, as Dandini in La Cenerentola with Boston’s NEMPAC Opera Project, and as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, both with Boston University Opera Institute. The Boston Musical Intelligencer said of his Dandini, “Nelson brought a deliciously hearty sound: his bold, rounded singing elicits the same earthly satisfaction as a great glass of Cabernet…He’s a natural choice for this role and others of its type.” His Demetrius was described as “a pleasure to listen to…His vocal performance left nothing to be desired.”
In the 2014/15 season, he was seen as Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief with Hubbard Hall Opera, the Prior in Angels in America and Escamillo in La Tragédie de Carmen in his first year with B.U. Opera Institute. His Marcello in La Bohème with NEMPAC Opera in Boston was called “electrically charged.” In seasons prior, Mr. Nelson has appeared with Minnesota Opera as Schaunard in La Bohème, Mandarin in Turandot, and Zimmerkellner in Arabella. As a Young Artist with Opera Colorado, he sang the roles of Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Old Gypsy in Il Trovatore, the Father in Hansel and Gretel, and Zuniga in Carmen. While with Des Moines Metro Opera as an Apprentice Artist, he covered Don Giovanni -- a role he also performed at UMKC -- and with the Brevard Music Festival he sang Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro.
An active interpreter of concert works, in 2016 Mr. Nelson sang the baritone solos in John Rutter’s Mass of the Children with Masterworks Chorale in Boston and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs at Old South Union Church. He has been the featured soloist in Händel’s Messiah with the Hyperion Singers and the Heartland Symphony, Fauré’s Requiem with Masterworks Chorale (Boston), and as a special guest artist at his alma mater, St. John’s University, in a program of both Bruckner’s and Koday’s Te Deum.
John Allen Nelson completed his residency at Boston University Opera Institute in spring 2016. He holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from St. John’s University in his native Minnesota.