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Nelda Nelson-Eaton

Board of Directors
Member since 2021

NELDA NELSON-EATON, widow of John Eaton, is a renowned singer. Her vast performing experience augments our performers’ perspective and will prove invaluable in shaping the future of NYCC.

She writes: "I started studying voice at the University of San Diego Alcala Park when I was seventeen years old with Prof. Charlotte Bond Aldrich. I was very active in the opera workshop. Upon graduation, I enrolled at the University of Southern California, where I studied with Miss Alice Mock and was also enrolled in their opera program.

"In 1971, I moved to Bloomington, Indiana, to enroll in the opera program and study with Martha Lipton. In 1973, I met and married John C. Eaton, the composer whose opera Heracles opened the Musical Arts Center. While there, I sang lead roles in many opera productions, won fourth place in the National Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1974, and subsequently, I was offered a Fulbright fellowship in that same year to pursue further operatic studies with Luigi Ricci of the Bel Canto Institute in Rome, Italy and art song with Giorgio Favaretto at the Santa Cecilia Academy of Rome.

"In the Fall of 1974, I was hired by the Heidelberg Opera, where I started my professional career. I sang leading roles for two years in Heidelberg, sang with the Schwetzingen Festival, and made guest appearances in Wiesbaden.

"After Germany, I came back to the United States where I sang Gabrielle in John Eaton’s Danton and Robespierre at Indiana University, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with the New York City Opera, Suzuki with the Houston Opera, Clytemnestra in John Eaton’s The Cry of Clytemnestra which he wrote for me and which I sang at Indiana University We went on to do this opera for the San Francisco Spring Opera season, and again at the Pepsico Summer Fare in Purchase, New York.

"In 1987, I re-enrolled at Indiana University, this time to study Latin American and Spanish literature. While I was in this program, I was taking a course on Mexican literature specializing in the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. I showed John some of her works, and he was fascinated. He proposed writing a cantata on her Divino Narciso. I translated the text for him and wrote a libretto based on this play of Sor Juana’s. He wrote this work for mezzo-soprano, tenor, dramatic coloratura soprano, and chamber orchestra. He also set three of Sor Juana’s sonnets for mezzo soprano and piano. I also sang in both of these works. I was so happy and honored to be John’s translator, librettist, and singer!

"In 2018, I established the John Eaton Foundation, a nonprofit organization to promote the works of John Eaton and other contemporary composers. We put on two concerts: one, a memorial for John Eaton, who passed away in 2015, and a legacy concert for his students. Subsequently, Covid arrived on the scene and put a damper on our presentations, but hopefully, the foundation will be able to continue its work very soon."