July 12, 2021
Spotlight on Charles Castronovo
If you want glorious singing from a lyric tenor, go to YouTube and listen to Charles Castronovo in the “Serenade” from The Student Prince. Some listeners today consider that famous operetta number sugary and sentimental, but in Castronovo’s performance it becomes sublimely romantic, and his voice effortlessly spans the song’s two octaves, encompassing an ideally ringing high B-flat at the end.
There are certain singers who seem able to rise to even the most formidable challenges in any role in their vocal category. Castronovo is one of those singers. Vocally the American tenor navigates with perfect ease, thanks to masterful control of his instrument. He combines superb technique with passionate dedication to every character he portrays.
In the 2021/22 Season, Lyric welcomed Castronovo back to our stage as one of opera’s most endearing characters — the naïve young Nemorino in The Elixir of Love. His entrancing performance of Donizetti’s music (including the world-famous aria “Una furtiva lagrima”) dazzled audiences with his terrific sense of bel canto style and the charisma he brings to all his roles. This role has already been a great success for him at the state operas of Vienna and Berlin.
Castronovo is sought after by all the major international companies, including Lyric, where he first captivated audiences as an exceptionally ardent Tamino in The Magic Flute (2011/12). His partnerships onstage with Nicole Cabell’s Pamina and Stéphane Degout’s Papageno truly illuminated the story and Mozart’s music. He returned to Lyric five seasons later to portray the poet Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. No one who heard him in that role will ever forget the sight of Castronovo, alone on an empty stage in the starkly lit duel scene, filling that vast space with heartfelt expressiveness in Lensky's melancholy soliloquy.
In addition to a wonderfully distinctive sound that eminently suits the lovestruck young men he generally portrays, Castronovo also boasts an ideal appearance for these roles, as well as a bold physicality that is crucial in creating his memorable characterizations. He’s completely at ease playing two other poets — the title role of The Tales of Hoffmann (Festspielhaus Baden-Baden) and Rodolfo in La bohème, which has become a signature role (heard most recently at London’s Royal Opera House). He can play kings and noblemen, as in his Munich portrayals of Admète in Gluck’s Alceste and the title character of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. He’s similarly convincing playing unsophisticated young men from the country who find love in romantic Paris — Ruggero in La rondine (Royal Opera House, Deutsche Oper Berlin) and Alfredo in La traviata (many major houses, including those of Hamburg, Munich London, Barcelona, and Toronto). Heroic types fit him just as well — Jason in Cherubini’s Médée (Berlin State Opera) and Gabriele Adorno in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra (Salzburg Festival).
Henrik NánásiIt comes as no surprise that the ultimate young man in love, Romeo in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, has also been a great success for Castronovo. In 2018 — nineteen years after he first appeared at the Met, singing small roles as a member of the company’s young-artist program — he was starring there as Romeo. He’s also earned acclaim at the Met as Tamino, Rodolfo, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Des Grieux in Manon.
Lyric audiences can look forward to another brilliant portrayal from Charles Castronovo as the Don José in Bizet's Carmen in the 2022/23 Season. He'll join forces with other superb artists — J'Nai Bridges, Golda Schultz, Andrei Kymach, and more under the baton of Maestro Henrik Nánási — in a powerfully dramatic production of one of the world's favorite operas.