Born in Lisbon in 1931, American tenor Nico Castel was raised in Venezuela, and finally made his way to New York to pursue his musical interests where he became the first winner of the “Joy in Singing” award which launched his career. Soon after, he made his debut with Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, and then the Metropolitan Opera Company where his tenure includes 21 years as staff diction coach.
Nico Castel’s contributions to the world of opera are vast and varied. His over 45 years of work in this field – performing, studying, teaching and developing and perfecting his skills and many talents – have earned him the international acclaim as tenor, teacher, translator and unparalleled diction and style master coach he enjoys today.
Nico Castel is a true polyglot (he speaks fluent Portuguese, German, French, Spanish, Italian and English), a man of vast culture, a multi-talented artist and scholar, who in addition to having carved himself a career as one of the world’s pre-eminent character operatic tenors, with over 200 roles in his repertoire, has also developed a parallel career as vocal coach and teacher of multilingual lyric diction.
Nico Castel’s heritage and lifetime of knowledge and experience in the fields of language, singing and opera have culminated in his publications of opera libretti translations and diction manuals which after many years of hunting down (due to usage rights, exorbitant shipping costs and some rather uncooperative mid-Atlantic suppliers) Westminster Music Library is now the proud owner of a complete set. It has been described by some pretty starry people as the definitive reference for diction, pronunciation and translation for all of the major operas:
Nico Castel has undertaken a stupendous task with his Operatic Libretti Series — a work that should have been done years ago … How much time these publications could have saved me when studying a new opera! How fortunate are the present day students to be able to refer to these books, constantly improving their understanding of the complete work.
Dame Joan Sutherland
My good friend and colleague of many years, Nico Castel, has undertaken the Herculean task of writing translations and phonetic transcriptions of practically every opera in the current repertoire. It is an undertaking that has engaged the passion so typical of him. These books will become the standard by which a new generation of singers can better understand and interpret their opera roles in a way that was never practicably possible heretofore. Bravo, Nico, for this invaluable legacy!
Placido Domingo, tenor/conductor, Metropolitan Opera