It was a disturbing headline in The New York Post: In April of 2013, an angry teen was charged with setting a blaze in the Bronx that left two dozen people homeless. One of the tenants forced to evacuate from the damaged building was Andrey Nemzer, a visiting performer with the Metropolitan Opera who, at the time, was the cover for David Daniels in the title role of Giulio Cesare in the Met’s most recent production. All of Nemzer’s belongings were destroyed in the fire. Suits, computer, personal possessions — the celebrated countertenor was left with just his cell phone and the clothing on his back.
Calamity can leave even the most successfully engaged musician in sudden need of assistance. Only one year before the fire, Nemzer had been crowned a winner of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Grand Finals. The year before, he was named winner of the Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition. The Moscow-born performer toured as a soloist with the Moscow choir and collaborated with many vocal and instrumental ensembles, in addition to his opera appearances. But all the performances in the world could not undo the effects of a sudden crisis beyond his control.
The Musicians Foundation was there to help with the replacement of essentials that allowed Nemzer to get back to the important work of sharing his magnificent voice with the world. He returned to the Met stage in 2013–2014 to perform the role of the Guardian in Die Frau Ohne Schatten, as well as playing Orlofsky in a new production of Die Fledermaus.