Charles Castronovo: I would say now, with my experience, that a mask should be worn at all rehearsals even when singing.

Acclaimed internationally as one of the finest lyric tenors of his generation, Castronovo was born in New York to Sicilian and Ecuadorian parents and grew up in Southern California. He studied at California State University, Fullerton, and began his career as a member of the chorus of Los Angeles Opera. In 1988 he joined San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and later joined the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He now sings regularly for major opera houses around the world, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Berlin State Opera, Paris Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Theatre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels, and many others including at the Salzburg and Aix en Provence Festivals. His repertoire spans from the great Mozart tenor roles in Don Giovanni, Così Fan Tutte and Die Zauberflöte, to Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore and Alfredo in La Traviata. In recent seasons Castronovo has also won wide acclaim for his performances as the title role in Faust, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, the Duke in Rigoletto, Rodolfo in La Bohème and Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress. He starred in the title role of Daniel Catan’s Il Postino opposite Placido Domingo in the work’s world premiere in Los Angeles, as well as Paris and Santiago. His repertoire also includes Don José (Carmen), Chevalier des Grieux (Manon), Werther, Vincent (Mireille), Giasone (Medea), Admète (Alceste), Faust (Faust, Mefistofele and La Damnation de Faust), Gennaro (Lucrezia Borgia), Carlo (I masnadieri), Gabriele Adorno (Simon Boccanegra), Don Carlo, Roberto (Roberto Devereux), and the title role in La Clemenza di Tito. He created the role of Mario Ruoppolo (Catán’s Il postino) opposite Plácido Domingo in Los Angeles, and has since performed the role in Paris and Santiago de Chile.

We are fortunate to finally be able to virtually meet the tenor Charles Castronovo, an interview that was initially scheduled for the previous issue of OPERA Charm Magazine, but which we had to postpone, due to his hospitalisation with COVID-19. During the rehearsals for Carmen at Wiener Staatsoper, Charles was tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalised for several weeks. For the 1-year anniversary issue of our magazine he tells us what happened next, how he’s feeling at the moment and how the recovery process is going in a conversation with Bianca L. Nica.

Charles, I am so glad to chat with you once again and I truly hope that you’re feeling better after all you went through. Last time we talked you were in the middle of the rehearsals for a new production in Poland, which was live-streamed. Could you tell us more about it and about the polish situation and restrictions on Covid-19, of course… How did it go and what happened afterwards?

Well, I can say that my family and I are doing our best during these difficult times. Like most of our colleagues in the performing arts, we have had a lot of projects cancelled or delayed, but we are always trying to stay positive. We have been lucky enough to have a close and great relationship with Mariusz Kweichen, with whom I studied in the Metropolitan Young Artist Program back in the old days. He is now the Artistic Director of the Opera House in Wroclaw, Poland. So, as they were doing performances, albeit without a public, we were able to do Les Contes d’Hoffmann. The rules were quite strict in the opera house with check-ups and masks, so we were able to rehearse and perform safely and had a very nice “live” performance for the public via Internet.

And then you arrived in Vienna for your Carmen performance at Wiener Staatsoper, but you weren’t as lucky: right after the first rehearsals you had to stop. What happened?

Well I was very happy to be in Vienna and rehearsing Carmen. The bad luck came after the first week of rehearsal when I unfortunately contracted Covid.  After a few days I was really not feeling well and had to go to the hospital and ended up staying for 2 weeks. The situation was that it hit me pretty hard and I was having trouble breathing well.  Basically I had pneumonia in parts of my lungs and had to fight to get back to health, which was actually quite difficult and admittedly a bit scary!  I am a positive person but for a few days there it was very difficult.  

Read the entire interview & many other interesting articles here, in the anniversary issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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