Kurt Ollmann

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Kurt Ollmann (born January 9, 1957 in Racine, Wisconsin),[1] is an American operatic baritone, known for his frequent musical association with composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein from 1982 until Bernstein's death in 1990. He has performed extensively, in opera, musical theatre, and solo recitals.

Early life[edit]

Ollmann was born, and grew up, in Racine, Wisconsin. From age 12 to 14, Kurt and his family lived in Paris.[2] They then returned to Racine, where he attended Horlick High School.[2] He attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1977 with a degree in Romance languages.[2]


After college, Ollmann moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to begin a singing and theatrical career. He studied singing with Marlena Malas, Yolanda Marculescu and Gérard Souzay.[1] He also became a member of the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee.[1]

In 1982 Ollmann moved to New York City. There he was introduced to Leonard Bernstein, and he performed in Bernstein's opera A Quiet Place in 1984,[3] and participated in recordings of Bernstein's West Side Story (as Riff) and Candide (as Maximilian), both conducted by Bernstein.[1]

In the 2000s Ollmann served as an associate professor of music at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

The 1989 recording of Bernstein's Candide, in which Ollmann sang the role of Maximilian, won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Album in 1992.

Ollmann received an honorary degree in music from his alma mater, Bowdoin, in 1988.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Ollmann is openly gay.[4]

In the 1990s Ollmann lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his then-partner, director and A Quiet Place librettist Stephen Wadsworth.[2] In 2000 Ollmann returned to Milwaukee.[4]

His current partner is Bill Lavonis, an operatic tenor, whom he began dating in 2000; the two have sometimes performed together.[4]

In 2014, he and Lavonis moved to Savannah, Georgia.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Eriksson, Erik. "Kurt Ollmann: Artist Biography". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, Lee (July 25, 2003). "Kurt Ollmann's voice propels him around world". The Journal Times.
  3. ^ Holland, Bernard (July 24, 1984). "OPERA: 'A QUIET PLACE' BY BERNSTEIN, IN WASHINGTON". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d Steinbach, Julie (February 13, 2015). "Opera's Kurt Ollmann returns for a Milwaukee cabaret". Milwaukee Gazette.
  5. ^ BOWDOIN COLLEGE: Commencement 1988
  6. ^ Kosidowski, Paul (February 27, 2015). "'BIG NATE,' 'COME BACK' AND THE MSO". Milwaukee.