Meet Karen

Karen Kriendler Nelson

Karen with Pino
[Photo by Christian Steiner]
One of America's most respected champions of the Performing Arts, Karen Kriendler Nelson has dedicated her professional career to honoring, preserving, and perpetuating the standards and traditions of the lyric art and some of its most visible artists.  Educated at New York's Brearley School and Smith College, from which she graduated magna cum laude, Karen was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, which enabled her to complete a project on the Studio of Gian Lorenzo Bernini at the University of Rome.  Since founding KKN Enterprises in March 1993, Karen has represented a diverse roster of artists including sopranos Mary Dunleavy and Ailyn Pérez; mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux; tenors Piotr Beczała, Lawrence Brownlee, Stephen Costello, Giuseppe Filianoti, Anthony Dean Griffey, Richard Leech, Saimir Pirgu, and Russell Thomas; baritone Rod Gilfry; bass-baritone Richard Bernstein; and conductors Riccardo Frizza, Emmanuel Plasson, and Joel Revzen.  Currently, Karen shares her expertise with numerous arts and Arts organizations.

In recognition of her lifelong dedication to furthering the cause of opera in the United States, Karen was invited to join OPERA America's National Opera Center Facilities Board, beginning with the organization's September 2016 meeting.

Karen's professional experience spans an array of leadership roles with some of America's most noteworthy organizations.  In addition to serving of the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of America, she was a founding Board member of the non-profit foundation A Sense of Wirth, now called The First Step Center for Deaf and Deaf-Blind Children, Inc., an institution dedicated to awareness and support for the parents of deaf children.

Focusing her talents on the Performing Arts, Karen was a founding member and subsequently Chairman of the Young Friends of City Center, a fundraising initiative for City Center that supported the New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The John A. Houseman Acting Company, and Joffrey Ballet.  With Karen's aid, the Young Friends of City Center sponsored annual benefits for the constituent companies, honoring each of the companies in rotation.

From March 1975 until February 1994, Karen served as Executive Director of the prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation, for which she was the Coordinator and Associate Producer of eighteen RTMF Galas, as well as their PBS telecasts and intermission features.  Additionally, she organized and supervised the annual RTMF vocal competitions.  Karen was the Co-Producer and Assistant Curator of The Richard Tucker Retrospective, an exhibition at the Museo Teatrale alla Scala in Milan.  In conjunction with the exhibit's opening ceremonies, she was the RTMF's representative at a major press conference, at which she also served as translator for remarks by Renata Tebaldi.  In her capacity as Executive Director of the RTMF, Karen had the privilege of contacting young artists to inform them of their selection as recipients of the Richard Tucker Award.

Following her leadership of the Tucker Foundation, Karen was Program Director for ARIA throughout its decade-long existence (1995 - 2004).  Under the auspices of the Thomas Foundation, ARIA annually awarded three talented American singers with cash prizes of $15,000 each, the singers being nominated, considered, and selected without their knowledge.

In addition to her work with the RTMF and ARIA, Karen has also spearheaded special Public Relations projects for the Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, and Ghostlight Records.

In her role as a producer, Karen has facilitated Masterclasses at various conservatories with an extraordinary array of celebrated singers including Martina Arroyo, Franco Corelli, Marilyn Horne, Evelyn Lear, Robert Merrill, Sherrill Milnes, Leontyne Price, Leonie Rysanek, Rita Shane, Thomas Stewart, Gabriella Tucci, and Deborah Voigt.  She was also the Assistant Producer of the Bob Hope at Lincoln Center television special.

Throughout her career, Karen has shared her love and knowledge of the Performing Arts and her passion for their survival by mentoring young artists and offering guidance as they make vital decisions about their career paths. Recently, she further expanded her engagement with today's Arts scene via her voluntary membership on the Advisory Board of Ars Minerva, an exciting new venture that aims to focus on forgotten gems of Baroque music composed for the annual Venetian Carnevale, many of which have not been heard since the era of their creation. She has also served as artistic consultant to Italian composer Alberto Caruso and Irish novelist/librettist Colm Tóibín since the inception of their thought-provoking operatic adaptation of Mr. Tóibín's novel The Master, chronicling events in the life of American novelist Henry James.

The most important roles in Karen's career are those of mother to two sons and grandmother to one granddaughter.

Karen with Vivica Genaux in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, April 2009 [Photo from private collection]

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155 West 66th Street
New York, NY  10023

[Updated 7 September 2020]