Ten Questions with William Ottow

Ten Questions With…

William Ottow, tenor
Madison Opera Studio Artist

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
La Crosse, Wisconsin.

2.  If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I don’t really know, being a politician has always interested me, but I’d probably be a pretty bad one.  I’d be a political science or economics major if I didn’t sing, but I can’t say I know what you do with those degrees. 

3.  The first opera I was ever in was…
The chorus of Don Giovanni at UW-Madison my freshman year; that’s really when I realized that opera is a thing I wanted to do.

4.  My favorite opera is…
How can I pick just one opera?  But instead of choosing La Bohème or Werther or Così fan tutte or L’Elisir d’Amore or Carmen, I’ll choose Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten.  Albert was my first major role and it will always have a special place in my heart.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
I always forget to eat pre-show, so usually I just eat a couple apples, but post-show I enjoy a nice burger with something brewed by New Glarus.

6.  People would be surprised to know that…
I ran track at UW-Madison for three years. #badgertough

7.  A few of my favorite books are…
Harry Potter will always top my list of favorite books.  Others include the Miss Peregrine series by Ransom Riggs, The Great Gatsby, Heirs of Cain by Abraham Rothberg, Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth, and The Outsider by Albert Camus.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?   
Looking at my actual playlist I see Madison Opera’s season of La Bohème, Little Women, and The Tales of Hoffmann, mixed in along with Benjamin Britten’s “Holy Sonnets of John Donne,” The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and The Decemberists, among others.  (Is that more than five?  I can’t count past four.)

9.  What is the worst costume you’ve ever worn?
My junior year of show choir in high school, a portion of our show we were dressed as 80s rockers.  We had pleather pants, neon mesh shirts, long, ratty wigs, and giant silver platform boots.  It was so ridiculous, it only lasted one performance before we had to scale it back.

10.  Everyone should go to the opera because….
Often I think I encourage people to go to the opera because I love it, but people should go to the opera because they love it.  I see people fall in love with opera all the time; it’s easy to do.  But in order to fall in love with opera, you have to go and experience it for the first time.  Luckily Madison is a wonderful place to experience opera, as there are many more affordable opportunities than other communities of a similar size.  La Bohème was the first opera I ever saw live and it opened the door to a new world for me.  Madison Opera has a wonderful season programmed this year and people owe it to themselves to open themselves up to this world I live in and love. 

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  How many wisdom teeth did you have?
A:  Five.

Don’t miss the chance to see William all year long, on our mainstage and in our community.  Visit for more information.

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