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Nelsens make double debut at NYC Opera

A recent weekend was unusually exciting for Indiana University Jacobs School of Music horn professor Jeff Nelsen and his wife, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen. Nina made her New York City Opera (NYCO) debut on Friday, March 19, singing Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Nelsens
Nina and Jeff Nelsen

Jeff was excited to return to see the show again on Sunday. Five minutes before Sunday's 1:30 p.m. curtain, he had taken his seat in the audience and sent Nina a text with his location.

After being recognized by one of the orchestra's hornists as being a member of the renowned ensemble Canadian Brass, Jeff was approached by orchestra management. The NYCO horn section was one horn player short, and they asked if he would step in--with four minutes to spare--and play the show.

By 1:27 p.m., he was backstage, where he ran into Nina. Understandably alarmed, she asked him if everything was alright. He fearlessly smiled and said, "Oh yeah! I'm just going sit in; have a good show!" A half-laughing, half-shocked Nina yelled back, "Ummm, okay ... you too!"

Jeff headed downstairs, where the orchestra manager tied a tie around Jeff's neck, handed him an extra horn, "threw" him into the pit and closed the door. Within seconds, Jeff was tuning with the orchestra. The Nelsens performed Sunday afternoon's entire performance together.

It was a weekend of a lifetime for this musical couple. Nina made her NYCO debut on Friday, and Jeff made his on Sunday--a story they can tell their grandchildren one day.