Charles Castonovo’s mad dash from opera house stage to pub gig

opera singer

opera singer - Credit: Archant

Internationally acclaimed tenor Charles Castronovo will be juggling a role in The Magic Flute with singing down at The King’s Head

American tenor Charles Castronovo will be swapping the scale and glamour of the Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall to sing in a pub.

The fast-rising opera star will premiere Dolci Napoli: The Neapolitan Songs, based on his latest album, during six performances at the 100-seat King’s Head Theatre in Islington.

But performing to a few score audience members is just as nerve-wracking as singing at his more usual venue – the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, says the 37-year-old.

“I’m a bit nervous about the jokes and my sense of humour that I normally do between songs in these types of more intimate shows.

“I wonder how that is going to play with a British audience.”

The King’s Head is the home of the award-winning OperaUpClose company and has built up a loyal audience of opera buffs.

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“What is most exciting about these kind of pub shows is the intimacy with the audience. No matter what country you’re in, if you’re that close to people it’s going to be an intimate experience.”

Sicilian roots

Running from March 31, the shows will feature songs that channel Castronovo’s own roots in Sicily and Naples.

“I wanted to get in touch with those traditional roots and that music. I wanted to do this beautiful, old-fashioned music in the traditional way, as those songs weren’t meant to be performed with huge orchestras or audiences.

“Doing them with simply a guitar, piano or accordion is far more beautiful and intimate – especially when you can talk with the audience.”

Born in Queens, New York, to a Sicilian father and an Ecuadorian mother, Castronovo trained with the Los Angeles Opera and has sung at venues like the Metropolitan Opera House and Opéra National de Paris, as well as at the 2011 Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

In addition to performing at the King’s Head, Castronovo will be singing the role of Tamino in The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House – a challenge that will peak on April 29 when he will leave directly from stage in Covent Garden by motorbike for a final late performance at the pub at 11pm.

“I did something like that in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House and club 54 and it was really fun. You leave one venue and hop right back on stage and the audience is there and ready to go. It’s a lot of fun and very fatiguing – but the adrenaline is really going at that point,” says Castronovo.

The King’s Head shows will also mix traditional and new opera classics delivered in both English and Italian. The blend of opera and traditional setting is one that Castronovo hopes will ease the audience into the beauty of the artform.

“The show is really something in between song and opera that’s beautiful, easy to listen to and enjoy whether you like opera or not,” he said. “It’s very light and fun and some beautiful songs in a great setting is really wonderful for beginner or experienced opera-goers alike.”

n Tickets for Dolci Napoli: The Neapolitan Songs are available from the box office on 020 7478 0160.