Charles Castronovo at the King’s Head Theatre
During his time in London, American tenor Charles Castronovo will juggle his role as Tamino in the Royal Opera House’s production of the Magic Flute with a series of intimate shows at the King’s Head Theatre.
At a venue with a capacity of only one hundred, the rising star premiered his latest album, Dolce Napoli: The Neapolitan Songs to a select audience. Perched on a small black stool, Castronovo performed a carefully chosen selection of folk songs channelling his own heritage, accompanied by his five-piece band. With instruments including the accordion and a mandolin, the evening captured the feel of a calm summer’s night in Naples.
The tenor’s performance was raw and honest, inches from the audience on a small stage made entirely of scaffolding and ladders wrapped in tape. The show could not have been further from his dramatic role at the Royal Opera House, giving the audience an opportunity to meet the man behind Tamino – humble with a great sense of humour.
Castronovo expressed the challenge of maintaining an upbeat feel, describing most songs from Naples as being extremely soppy – or drenched in “a lot of olive oil”, as he put it. Songs of love, hate and passion, Maria Mari told the story of a man calling for Maria from a window, whereas Malafemmena portrayed a woman so terrible, her beauty served only to deceive.
After such tales of trouble with women, it was refreshing to hear Castronovo’s take on U Sciccareddu, a Sicilian folk song about the loss of a beloved donkey. The crowd giggled as he sang “hee-haw” with such sincerity; this was a great example of how his humour made for an enjoyable show.
For both avid opera-goers and those who know little about it, Charles Castronovo provides a more intimate, accessible evening, allowing the viewer to witness the art without the spectacle. A strange yet refreshing experience, this is definitely worth seeing.
Watch the video for Malafemmena here: