Dennis Olsen as Reginald Bunthorne in Patience

Dennis Olsen (1970-71)

[Born Adelaide, Australia 28 Feb 1938]

After first training as a pianist, Dennis Olsen entered and graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in his native Australia in 1962. He played leading roles for several years with the Melbourne Theatre Company and the South Australian Theatre Company, before scoring a huge success as guest artist with the Australian Opera as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe, and Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance in 1969.

He joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as a baritone chorister in September 1970, leaving the Company shortly before the end of the season (May 1971) to return to Australian Opera, for which he appeared as Ko-Ko in The Mikado and the Duke of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. In 1972-73 he toured Australia in An Ideal Husband and The Cherry Orchard, winning Melbourne's Erik Award for best actor of the year for his performance in the latter. Later he appeared as Reginald Bunthorne in an Australian Opera production of Patience, first produced in 1980 and recorded fifteen years later at Sydney Opera House. He also appeared as Sir Joseph Porter and made his directorial debut in a State Opera of Australia production of H.M.S. Pinafore, broadcast on ABC television in 1981.

In 1985 Olsen received a Churchill Fellowship to study opera production in Europe. He has since directed The Abduction from the Seraglio, Countess Maritza, The Czardas Princess, and Cosi Fan Tutte. In 1987 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts. He has worked in opera, cabaret, radio, television, and film, and recorded albums of Gilbert & Sullivan highlights (1978, 1979), as well as songs by Noel Coward and Ivor Novello. In 1997-98 he was director and played the Learned Judge in the Sydney Festival's production of Trial by Jury.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone