Charles Kullman was born Charles Kullmann.
He began performing in a church choir at age eight. He attended Yale University, studying medicine. However, after graduating in 1924,
he returned to his first interest, music, believing he could succeed in making a career as a singer.
He was accepted at the Juilliard School of Music on a scholarship. After completing three years of study there, he
won another scholarship, this one affording him the opportunity to study at the American University in Fontainebleau,
France, with Eustase Thomas-Salignac.
Upon returning to America, he taught voice for a while at Smith College, and then joined Vladimir Rosing's touring American
Opera Company and began singing leading roles.
Two years later, Kullman decided to return to Europe. An associate brought his name to the attention of conductor Otto Klemperer,
which led to his engagement at the Krolloper in Berlin, where he made his debut on February 24th, 1931, as Pinkerton in
Madama Butterfly. A year later, Kullman made his debut at the Berlin Staatsoper, where he became a favorite with the public.
During his time there, he worked with Germany's leading conductors, including Wilhelm Furtwängler, Erich Kleiber, Leo Blech.
The year 1934 saw Kullman making his debut at the Vienna Staatsoper, and Covent Garden. The following year saw his triumphant debut
at the Salzburg Festival, as Florestan in Fidelio, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. His Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,
in 1936, again with Toscanini, won him further praise. He is heard at that time (also 1936) in the live recording of Das Lied von der Erde,
with Kerstin Thorborg, under Bruno Walter, from the Vienna Musikverein.
After having sung widely in Europe, Kullman returned to America for his debut at the Metropolitan Opera on December 19th, 1935, in
as Faust. On December 8th, 1939, he changed the spelling
of his name from Kullmann to Kullman. A live recording can be heard of him from his early Met period, singing Alfredo in La traviata, opposite Bidu
Sayão and Leonard Warren in 1943, under Cesare Sordero.
In twenty-five seasons at the Met, his roles included Don José, Pinkerton, Stolzing, Ottavio,
Avito (in L'amore dei tre re), Eisenstein. He later took on character roles such as Shujskij and Goro.
Essentially a lyric tenor with an unforced freshness, Kullman had enough steel and authority to successfully undertake weightier roles,
ranging to Tannhäuser and Parsifal.
In later years, he taught voice both at Indiana University (1956–1971) and Curtis Institute of Music (1970–1971).