Today, tenor Charles Castronovo is one of the most renowned singers of his generation, performing around the world at such august venues as the New York Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Staatsoper Berlin, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. But here in Los Angeles, one group of opera aficionados recognized Castronovo’s artistry long before all the others: the Opera Buffs, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to supporting emerging singers.
Fifteen years later, Castronovo will once again perform for the Opera Buffs, when he presents “Charles Castronovo’s Italian Songbook” on Saturday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Colburn School’s Zipper Hall in Los Angeles. All proceeds raised by the event, which is open to the public, will benefit the roster of deserving young singers nurtured and mentored by the group.
“There are so few organizations like the Opera Buffs, that help a young singer to focus on their development and art,” says Castronovo, who appeared as a Resident Artist with LA Opera and will return to Los Angeles for the company’s World Premiere of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, opening September 23. “To have had this support so early in my career has been a great help. Now, to have the chance to give a little back by singing this concert of beautiful Italian songs is almost like receiving a second gift from the Buffs!”
“The Opera Buffs provides funding and performance opportunities for young artists in Southern California,” adds David Alan Gibb, President of the Opera Buffs, Inc. “The younger the singer, the more difficult it is to identify career potential. But there was no question about the capabilities of the young Charles Castronovo! He has more than fulfilled all early expectation. We’re delighted that he has generously offered to sing for us and that music lovers throughout our community will be able to experience his artistry, at this stage of his career, in such an intimate setting.”
Those who attend “Charles Castronovo’s Italian Songbook” will hear the tenor perform his favorite Neapolitan, Sicilian and other Italian songs, as well as arias from his extensive repertoire. “Charles grew up with many of these songs,” says Gibb. “He heard them sung at home by his father. This, of course, will make the evening even more special and meaningful.”
By no means, however is Castronovo, who performed at Opera Buffs’ Showcase concerts in 1995 and 1996, the only acclaimed singer to have been mentored by the organization. Since 1983, hundreds of artists – including Brian Asawa, Richard Bernstein, Michelle DeYoung, Greg Fedderly, Sandra Radvanovsky and Deborah Voight – have benefited in the early stages of their careers from the Buffs’ financial and moral support.
“The Opera Buffs provides funding for career-related expenses based on current talent and career potential,” explains Gibb. “We play a very unique and invaluable role in the opera community -- fulfilling a niche generally not served by opera companies, competitions and music schools.”
As Castronovo experienced, the organization also provides young singers with the opportunity to gain paid performance experience. The Opera Buffs’ Fall Showcase –“Rivalry, Romance and Revenge” – will take place on Sunday, October 31, at 2:30 p.m. at Thayer Hall at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.
The Honorary Committee for the “Charles Castronovo’s Italian Songbook” gala includes tenor Placido Domingo, soprano Marilyn Horne, and soprano Martina Arroyo, winner of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2010 Opera Honors Award.
Tickets for the event are $100/person. To order, call 818.248.3391 or email email@example.com. For more information about the Opera Buffs, visit its website, www.operabuffs.org. The Colburn School is located at 200 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles.
The Opera Buffs, Inc. believes that, of all musical instruments, the human voice is the most sublime and that helping the exceptionally talented artist reach the operatic stage is a mission worthy of its utmost effort and full dedication.