She made her debut with English National Opera as Wood Nymph Rusalka, followed by Amor Orpheus and Eurydice and Belinda Dido and Aeneas. An ENO Company Principal from 1999 to 2004 subsequent roles included Susanna, Pamina, Dalinda Ariodante, Atalanta Xerxes, Trash The Fairy Queen (with performances in the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona), and Lucia The Rape of Lucretia for ENO and the Aldeburgh Festival, also broadcast on BBC TV and Radio 3.
Other roles include Carolina The Secret Marriage (Opera North), Gilda Rigoletto, Micaela Carmen (Castleward Opera) Piacere in Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Early Opera Company), Ismene Mitradate (Classical Opera Company) and Echo in a concert performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Barbican with the City of London Sinfonia conducted by Richard Hickox. She also sang Poulenc’s Gloria and Faure’s La Fête Étrange at the Royal Opera House. She recently made her role debut as Nedda (Stanley Hall Opera).
An experienced oratorio and concert soloist, her many performances include Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the City of London Sinfonia at the Barbican, Vivaldi’s La Senna Festeggiante with The King’s Consort in The Netherlands and Spain, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Handel’s Gloria with the Irish Chamber Orchestra (conducted by Nicholas McGegan), Bach’s St. John Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Britten’s Les Illuminations and Handel’s Gloria for the Israel Camerata, and Brahms’ Requiem with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with conductors including Christian Curnyn, Jane Glover, Thierry Fischer, David Hill, Richard Hickox, John Nelson, Kenneth Montgomery and Takuo Yuasa with orchestras including the Academy of Ancient Music, BBC Concert Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. Her international engagements include appearances with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Camerata, Music of the Baroque (Chicago), La Serenissima, and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra.
She has also sung Sandman Hansel and Gretel and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the BBC Proms. Her recordings include Mendelssohn Symphony No. 2 (Naxos), Georg Schumann’s Jerusalem, du hochgebaute Stadt (Guild Music) and Vivaldi Cantatas (Gaudeamus). On the recital platform she has given concerts at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge), the Honiton, Chester, Gower, Cambridge festivals and Queen’s Festival, Belfast. She also recently undertook a recital tour of Argentina to great critical acclaim.
Some recent engagements include Faure’s Requiem with Thierry Fischer and Northern Sinfonia, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with John Nelson and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Creation with the Prague Philharmonic and Jakub Hrusa, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Ulster Orchestra, the role of Arbace in Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica with La Serenissima in Venice and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Irish Baroque Orchestra.
In recent seasons Mary Nelson has performed Haydn’s Scena di Berenice,Poulenc’s Gloria and Finzi’s Dies Natalis with the Ulster Orchestra, Handel’s Gloria with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Brahms German Requiem with the Midland Festival Chorus and Messiah with the Bristol Choral Society.
‘Asteria was sung with gripping conviction by Mary Nelson. She delivered the role with vocal surety and a smooth, even tone.’ Opera Now, Tamerlano 2009
‘One of the highlights had to be Mary Nelson’s heartfelt delivery’ Northern Echo, Northern Sinfonia 2008
‘Mary Nelson gave a mammoth performance. Her ability to support her high notes over long phrases, and the plain joy one feels when listening to her, is miraculous.’ musicOHM.com 2006
‘Mary Nelson’s soprano combined clarity of diction with the ability to float long, florid phrases accurately and beautifully.’ The Chicago Tribune, Alexander’s Feast, Music of the Baroque 2002
‘But the real surprise was Mary Nelson, a young soprano who has an amazingly beautiful voice. I am sure we will hear a lot about her in the future’
Israeli Classical Music 2003
‘The Irish soprano Mary Nelson was immediately noticed as a ‘winning horse’. A penetrating voice with conquering beauty, easily produced.’
Ha-aretz (Israel) 2003
‘ Impressive… is the word for Mary Nelson’s singing of the lady-in-waiting Dalinda. The purity and clarity of her Handel, particularly in the difficult florid passages, were very good indeed.’ The Sunday Telegraph, Ariodante, ENO 2002
‘Mary Nelson uses her gorgeously burnished tones and impressive coloratura technique to wonderful effect’ Metro, Ariodante, ENO 2002
‘Mary Nelson is excellent as the blonde Dalinda, her clear, bell-like soprano voice possessing a power that belies her slender frame.’
What’s On, Ariodante ENO 2002
‘…here (Mary Nelson’s) clear diction and bright, agile soprano projected Dalinda’s character vividly.’ Opera Magazine, Ariodante, ENO 2002
‘Best of its members was Mary Nelson, whose Susanna had an easy charm, rising to a shapely account of Deh vieni non tardar.’ The Telegraph, The Marriage of Figaro, ENO 2001
‘With a cast of eager, ripe young voices, such as Mary Nelson’s honeyed and beautifully prepared Susanna’ Opera Magazine, The Marriage of Figaro, ENO 2001
‘…and Mary Nelson the best Lucia I have heard, with a real full tone’
The Sunday Telegraph, The Rape of Lucretia, ENO 2003
‘Mary Nelson sings brightly and sweetly as her adolescent maid, Lucia’
The Sunday Times, The Rape of Lucretia, ENO 2003
‘Mary Nelson just bloomed rapturously in that sexy aria in the final act.’
Evening Standard, The Marriage of Figaro, ENO 2001
‘Best of all, however, was Mary Nelson as the drover’s nymphet daughter, spinning out the lines of her brief, but difficult aria with a flawless purity of tone and exquisite ease- a moment of genuine Straussian radiance’.
The Guardian 2000
‘Best of all was the Salustia, the Irish soprano Mary Nelson, an alert, fresh, attractive artist who alone on the Britten Theatre stage had presence, communicated truthful musicianship through phrase-shaping and did something with the words. Whenever Salustia was about, the feeling of mist and fog began to clear’. Opera Magazine, Alessandro Severo
‘Mary Nelson… has proved one of the finest young emerging sopranos of today…With a voice of excellent quality and technique that coped easily with the florid writing, this was a prestigious performance’. Belfast Telegraph, Exsultate Jubilate 2006
‘The soloist was Ulster born soprano Mary Nelson who delighted everyone with three Mozart arias. Come Scoglio showed a singer of excellent technique and musicianship who is able to project her fine voice with ease. Mary must be one of Ulster’s busiest and best musical exports’.
Ulster Orchestra Online Review 2006