- Mr. Rojo
Catching up with Hometown tenor Charles Castronovo
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Some of you may remember world renown opera tenor, Charlie Castronovo. He was able to sing for a couple of the Osos choirs back in Nov. 2019. There was brief presentation about how (just like many of you local students) Charlie grew up in Cucamonga, went to Alta Loma High School back in the early 90's, sang in Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and Madrigals small group, but also participated, and was a lead in the high school musicals as a junior and senior for Oklahoma, then Brigadoon. He was even in an alternative rock band. So it was evident to his schoolmates that he wanted a career in music, but it wasn't until his high school choir teacher introduced him to classical choral and opera that he started to develop a love for it, and that continued on at Cal State Fullerton where he studied and developed his voice. Soon, he participated in opera choruses for companies Opera Pacific (closed in 2008), and LA Opera. That led to young artist programs where an opera company or some sponsor will grant scholarships and mentoring to young singers either by audition or competition. Using these opportunities, Charlie started to build up a reputation, auditioned for comprimario roles in Los Angeles, as well as other opera houses and festivals. Once he secured a spot in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, this led to an important comprimario role in the Fall of 1999. This was his debut at the Met as "Beppe" in the opening night performance of Pagliacci, opposite Placido Domingo, and that put him on the radar in the opera business. Soon, he met his management company, who managed his debut in Europe, where opera dominates in performing arts, and there is a lot of work.
Since then he has married (opera soprano Ekaterina Siurina), has two kids, and still performs worldwide. As the life of an opera singer is often traveling from opera house to opera house, performing in your gig, but also finding that balance between career and family. He currently resides in Berlin, Germany, but owns a house in Fontana. He usually visits around the holidays, and summers, but has not been back to CA since the pandemic started, for fear it may be difficult to return, and Europe is still where most of the work still is.
Here are is some video of when he visited Los Osos High School and an article about his career:
Charlie recently made the cover story of the August 2020 edition of Opera News magazine (full article can be read from PDF below).
Many may not know this, but SoCal's Inland Empire is home to a few top opera singer talents:
Angel Blue, Soprano (under same management as Charlie, and went to Redlands for undergrad, 2005).
Rod Gilfry, Baritone (also went to CSUF for undergrad in 80's, currently a Professor of Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. Some of you Osos student had his wife, Tina Gilfry as your kindergarten teacher if you went to Caryn Elementary).
So remember, even from our humble city, Rancho Cucamonga, top talent can be developed from choir students, just like you.