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Charles Kullman

Born to German parents (the final ‘n’ of his original surname was dropped around 1939), Kullman attended local public schools and sang in church choirs from the age of eight. While studying medicine at Yale University he sang solo parts with the University Glee Club and won an intercollegiate song contest; and when financial difficulties after graduation precluded a medical career, he turned instead to singing, studying in New Haven with Marcosano, who re-placed his voice from baritone to tenor.

In 1924 Kullman successfully auditioned for the Juilliard School and was awarded a scholarship for three years. Here one of his teachers was a pupil of Viardot, Anna Eugénie Schön-René, who also taught Risë Stevens and Paul Robeson. A further scholarship took him to the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, where he was a pupil of Thomas Salignac; after which he returned to America in 1928 and joined Smith College as a singing teacher. Here Kullman took leading roles in several productions of early operas, including the first American performances of Monteverdi’s Orfeo (the Malipiero edition) in 1929. That year Kullman resigned from Smith to join Vladimir Rosing’s American Opera Company, making his debut as Pinkerton / Madama Butterfly and singing other leading tenor roles.




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