Stanford Olsen

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Olsen with Mike Wallace and Gladys Knight at 95th birthday celebration of President Gordon B. Hinckley

Stanford Olsen is a operatic tenor and professor of voice. He has performed in operas and concerts since 1983 and has sung with opera companies such as the Deutsche Opera Berlin, La Scala, and the Royal Opera, London. From 1986 to 1997 he performed regularly with the Metropolitan Opera. His career spans more than 1,200 performances on five continents over the course of 30 years.[1]

He retired from full-time performances and became Professor of Voice and Lucille P. and Elbert B. Shelfer Eminent Scholar at Florida State University’s College of Music. In 2012 he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. In 2015, he was appointed Director of the Castleton Festival’s Artist Training Seminar and spends his summers there as a principal vocal instructor.

Olsen was born in 1960 in Utah. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Utah (1984) and further studied voice further at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he received the artist diploma in opera. He was an opera fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. In 1986 he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which led to admission into the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program at the Met.

He debuted professionally at the Met on December 18, 1986, as a replacement in the final act for an ailing Rockwell Blake in Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani singing opposite Joan Sutherland. For the next three years he performed in supporting roles at the Met and performed a lead role in the Met’s touring production of Donizetti’s L ‘elisir d’amore in July 1988. He won the prestigious Naumburg Award in 1989.

He debuted as a tenor concert soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 1983.

In October 1989 he performed his first leading role on the Met’s mainstage in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Over the next eight years, he performed in several more significant roles in Die Fledermaus, Falstaff, Smiramide, and others.

He has performed with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the Miami Opera, the Salzburg Festival, and the Teatro Nacional de Sao Carios. In 2004 he appeared in the nationally televised (PBS’ Great Performances) concert version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.

He is a four-time GRAMMY nominee, and winner of an Emmy for the PBS broadcast of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with the New York Philharmonic, featuring George Hearn and Patti Lupone. Winner of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music’s “Alumnus of the Year” award in 1989, Olsen also received the first ever “Alumnus of the Year” award from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts in 2010.

Olsen has been a frequent judge for the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. He has given masterclasses to students at most of the country’s significant universities and conservatories, including CCM, Curtis, Eastman, Oberlin, Manhattan School of Music, Rice University, University of Illinois, University of Houston, USC, and dozens of others. He has also worked with the apprentices at the Tanglewood Festival, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Ravinia Festival, Cleveland Art Song Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Utah Opera, and the Metropolitan’s Lindemann Young Artist Program.

Olsen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a full-time mission to Vienna, Austria. He has performed with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and was one of the selected performers for President Gordon B. Hinckley’s 95th birthday celebration.

His wife, Jennifer Jensen, was a piano major at the University of Utah when they married in 1983.