Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

10 Questions for...
Charles Castronovo

September 21, 2010

Charles Castronovo

One of the more unique qualities of Il Postino, the new opera from Daniel Catán that will open the Los Angeles Opera season on Thursday, is that there are two starring tenor roles. The first is that of Pablo Neruda which everyone knows by now will be sung by Placido Domingo. The other tenor, the postman Mario referred to in the title, goes to American Charles Castronovo. He’s a face that should be familiar to local audiences since much of his early time as a resident artist was spent with L.A. Opera. Over the last decade, though, his blossoming career has taken him to major stages all over the world. He’s best known for his Mozart roles including Don Ottavio, Tamino, and Ferrando. He noticeably stars as Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, filmed during the Salzburg Festival’s 2006 Mozart anniversary year. He’s also known for his Nemorino and has sung that role as well as Alfredo opposite the likes of Anna Netrebko.

Charles Castronovo as Mario in Il Postino Photo: Robert Millard/LAO 2010

While in Los Angeles, he’ll also be performing a recital of Italian arias on Saturday, September 25, in support of the Opera Buffs. The Buffs is a nearly 30-year-old organization founded to support the careers of developing opera singers in Southern California, and Castronovo is one of the many young artists they helped foster at a much earlier stage. Tickets are still available for the show that will take place at Zipper Concert Hall. All proceeds will benefit other young singers so follow the link and hopefully we'll see you there.

Out West Arts put a few questions to the tenor this week:

1. What role would you most like to perform, but haven’t yet?
Massenet’s “Werther.” It’s a role that I really love not only musically but also dramatically. I love to brood onstage! Plus, I never died onstage before... and this one is a classic... suicide by pistol. Love it.

2. What role would you never perform, even if you could?
Herod, in Salome. He is just too slimy... I could do evil, but not plain slimy.

3. Describe your best moment on stage.
I have 3: Singing the small role of Beppe at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam–never had so much applause, I was shocked! / Singing a perfect (for me) rendition of “Una furtiva lagrima” in Paris and just reveling in the extreme silence of the audience between my last phrases.../ Exchanging high notes in a big duet with Placido Domingo in “Il Postino”... incredible.

4. Your iPod is destroyed by a vengeful mezzo. Which lost tracks would you miss most?
Led Zeppelin, Beatles, and Giuseppe Di Stefano singing Neapolitan songs.

5. Which music made you want to sing opera?
Entrance of Otello sung by Placido Domingo... wow.

6. In Il Postino you portray Mario, a postman. The next role written
especially for you should be...
Michael Corleone from the Godfather... 100% right on the money.

7. What is the best thing about working with a living composer?
When he hears you can't sing something well he offers to change it a bit... love that!

8. What's the best thing about being a tenor?
You get the best music, and all the ladies know it. :-)

9. What's your current obsession?
The Neapolitan dialect and my 3 year old son, Alessandro.

10. With which of your operatic roles do you have the most in common?
Alfredo from Traviata: very passionate in everything... love, anger, jealousy, and happiness.



I really really enjoyed him and his lovely wife in The Magic Flute at Santa Fe, which unfortunately not the best production, but still, with him and Rene Jacobs, I thought the music was fabulous!
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