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 2021/22, Lyric will welcome Castronovo back to our stage as one of opera’s most endearing characters  the naïve young Nemorino in The Elixir of Love. You can expect an entrancing performance of Donizetti’s music (including the world-famous aria “Una furtiva lagrima”) from Castronovo, and you can also expect him to dazzle 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.

Charles Castronovo as Tamino and Nicole Cabell as Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute (2011/12 Season), in Castronovo's Lyric debut.

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).

Alisa Kolosova as Olga and Charles Castronovo as Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (2016/17 Season). 

It 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 a brilliant portrayal from Charles Castronovo in The Elixir of LoveHe'll join forces with other superb artists — Ailyn Pérez, Joshua Hopkins, Kyle Ketelsen, and music director Enrique Mazzola — in a charming production that will be a feast of bel canto!

September 26 – October 8, 2021

The Elixir of Love

The Elixir of Love

No operatic hero is more endearing than Nemorino, who pines for the flirtatious Adina. She’s the owner of the town’s hotel, he’s her delightfully naive waiter. His only hope to win her is the “elixir” sold by the quack, Dr. Dulcamara — little does he know that it’s just Bordeaux wine! From start to finish we root for Nemorino, as Adina toys with him until she finally lets him know how she really feels. Elixir is opera’s most heartwarming comedy, filled with Donizetti’s delectable music that brings nonstop smiles.

Header image: Charles Castronovo in his Lyric debut as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2011/12 Season); credit: Dan Rest

Other images: Dan Rest, Todd Rosenberg