Stanford Olsen

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Stanford Olsen (born 1960[1]) is an American tenor who has had an active international career in operas and concerts since 1983. He has sung with several of the world's leading opera companies, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, La Scala and the Royal Opera, London. He was a regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera from 1986 until 1997 where he gave more than 160 performances.[2] A specialist in light lyric tenor roles, he excelled in the operas of Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini. After retiring from full-time performance in the late 1990s he became a faculty member at the Florida State University's College of Music, where he was Professor of Voice and Lucille P. and Elbert B. Shelfer Eminent Scholar.[3] He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in 2012. In 2015 he was appointed Director of the Castleton Festival's Artist Training Seminar. He continues to perform on the concert platform in addition to his teaching and coaching.

Life and career[edit]

Olsen was born and raised in Utah. His family is Mormon and he grew up attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to college he served a two-year LDS Mission in Vienna, Austria. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Utah in 1984 where he was a voice student of Naomi Farr. While a student at the U. of U. he married Jennifer Jensen, a piano major at the university, in 1983.[4] He then pursued further voice studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 1986 he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions[5] which led to his admitance into the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera.[6] In 1989 he won the prestigious Naumburg Award.[1]

Olsen made his professional singing debut in 1983, performing in concerts with the Utah Symphony Orchestra.[7] He made his professional opera debut at the Met on December 18, 1986, as Arturo in Vincenzo Bellini's I puritani with Joan Sutherland as Elvira as a replacement in the final act for an ailing Rockwell Blake.[6] He spent the next three seasons at the Met appearing in supporting roles like Borsa in Rigoletto, Gastone in La traviata, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Song Seller in Il tabarro. He did, however, sing the lead role of Nemorino in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore to the Adina of Ruth Ann Swenson in the Met's touring production in July 1988. His first leading role on the mainstage of the Met was as Count Almaviva in Rossini's The Barber of Seville in October 1989. He sang several more large roles at the Met over the next eight years, including Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Fenton in Falstaff, Idreno in Semiramide, the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier, and Tonio in La fille du régiment. His final appearance at the Met was as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni in 1997.

In 1987 Olsen performed Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with the Wolf Trap Opera Company.[8] Engagements with important opera companies, both in the United States and abroad, soon followed; including the Miami Opera (debut 1988 as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni[9]), the Salzburg Festival, the Royal Opera, London, and the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.[6] In 2004 he performed the roles of the Governor/Vanderdendur/Ragotski in a concert version of Leonard Bernstein's Candide with Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, and the New York Philharmonic; a performance which was nationally broadcast on PBS' Great Performances.[10]

Roles performed at the Metropolitan Opera[edit]

Opera Role Performances First performance Last performance
I puritani Arturo 6 1986 1997
Rigoletto Borsa 15 1986 1989
La traviata Gastone 9 1987 1988
L'elisir d'amore Nemorino 14 1988 1996
Lucia di Lammermoor Arturo 17 1988 1989
Il tabarro Song Seller 4 1989 1989
The Barber of Seville Count Almaviva 20 1989 1995
Die Entführung aus dem Serail Belmonte 5 1990 1991
Der Rosenkavalier Italian Tenor 20 1990 1995
Don Giovanni Don Ottavio 28 1990 1997
Semiramide Idreno 7 1990 1993
Falstaff Fenton 6 1992 1996
La fille du régiment Tonio 3 1994 1994
Die Fledermaus Alfred 5 1995 1995


  1. ^ a b "Tenor From Utah Wins Naumburg Competition". The New York Times. May 21, 1989.
  2. ^ Metropolitan Opera performances: Stanford Olsen
  3. ^ Florida State University website
  4. ^ "Mrs. Stanford Olsen". Deseret News. June 12, 1983.
  5. ^ "Stanford Olsen Wins National Metropolitan Opera Auditions". Deseret News. April 9, 1986.
  6. ^ a b c Dorothy Stowe (September 13, 1991). "Utah-born Tenor To Appear In Met Telecast". Deseret News.
  7. ^ "Met Opera Finalists Chosen". Deseret News. January 15, 1984.
  8. ^ Joseph McLellan (July 11, 1987). "Barber's' Fresh Faces; Young Cast Excels in Wolf Trap Showcase". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Tim Smith (February 10, 1988). "Greater Miami Opera's Giovanni Compelling". South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
  10. ^ Robert Simonson (12 January 2005). "Chenoweth and LuPone Sing Candide on PBS January 12". Playbill.