10 Questions with Charles Castronovo

It's been a few years since we've had the delightful American tenor Charles Castronovo sing with us; he made his Company debut as Nadir in The Pearl Fishers in 2008. He recently created the role of Mario opposite Placido Domingo for the world premiere of Il Postino and has been singing  a number of leading roles in Europe as of late. We're very pleased to welcome Charles back as Ernesto in our upcoming production of Don Pasquale. Charles was kind enough to take a few moments to answer our "10 or so Questions with...." while preparing to sing Germont at Vienna State Opera next month.

San Diego Opera (SDO): First, welcome back to San Diego Opera – we’re very pleased to have you return to us to sing Ernesto in Don Pasquale. Audiences remember you as Nadir from The Pearl Fishers in 2008. What have you been up to these past few years?

Charles Castronovo (CC): Since being in San Diego last I have been VERY busy..! Of course family life balancing with career is always tricky but worth it! Singing wise I have been mostly in Europe. I made some very important role debuts: Romeo in Dallas, Gennaro (Lucrezia Borgia) in Munich, Tom Rakewell (Rake's Progress) in London and Vincent (Mireille) in Paris.

SDO: Can you tell me a little about your Ernesto?

CC: My Ernesto is still evolving. I have actually only sung the role once which was WAY back in 2001..! As always I try to put some masculine tendencies in my roles, and in this case its needed more then others because Ernesto seems to mostly whine about his fate.. Too much generation X whining! So, I will man him up a bit..!

SDO: Do you have a favorite moment in this opera?

CC: My favorite moment in this opera is probably the serenade in the final scene. It is simple but truly pure and heart felt. Tricky to sing well but satisfying..!

SDO: Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we’re dreaming it doesn’t even need to be in your fach…

CC: Dreams in my future fach: Werther..!

I love to brood, and he is great for this. Plus the music is sublime.

Dream out of my fach: Lohengrin..!

To be a knight blessed, magical, courageous yet mysterious.. That's so what I would love to play. And the music.. Incredible..!

SDO: What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue?

CC: I joined choir in high school, loved singing but did not know what to do with it. Then I heard the entrance of Otello sung by Placido Domingo, and then I was hooked. I said "that's what I want to do" and so, that's what I did..!

SDO: Fill in the blank section: “If I was not an opera singer I would be __________”

CC: ...would be a soldier in the US Army. Seriously.

SDO: Two parter: What’s your favorite part of being an international opera singer? What’s your least favorite part?

CC: Best part is to spend time in wonderful cities, but even better is to meet such interesting people. The people you work with, artists, staff, etc.. It makes the other parts of the career bearable.

Worst part is not being home enough, missing family, not being able to finish your little projects, and sometimes plain boredom. It looks glamorous but when the opening night is finished and you are done with the party and you go to the hotel or apartment and your family is not there... It sucks.

SDO: Some people say there is more to life than opera. We think they’re crazy too. But we’ll humor them: do you have any hobbies?

CC: Hobbies: reading military history books, exercising, photography.

SDO: Do you have a book next to your bed? What is it?

CC: A biography of Julius Ceasar and a magazine: the Economist

SDO: Name three bands or musicians on your iPod that aren’t opera related.

CC: Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Nina Simone

SDO: Since you are coming back to San Diego, anything about our city you are looking forward to revisiting?

CC: I look forward to being in SD for the relaxed pace, the kind people, and the good weather. I also enjoyed working with this company so much. Any company that puts a HUGE poster of me shirtless on the entire side of their theater is a place for me!!! :-)


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