I had the great honor and privilege to work with Nico castel up to 3 times a week for three years, while in the Met's Young Artist program. His wealth of knowledge never ceases to amaze me, and his help has been, and continues to be, invaluable. Thanks, Nico!
- Dwayne Croft, Baritone, Metropolitan Opera
There is no doubt that I would not be where I am today if it had not been for the invaluable assistance of Nico Castel. Nico's incredibly sharp ears and clarity of explanation are largely responsible for my success with the magnificent Baron Ochs in "Der Rosenkavalier." When one is highly complimented by native speakers of the idiomatic, dialectic accent of Viennese German, that's really saying something!
- Eric Halfvarson, Bass, Metropolitan Opera
After reflecting over the past thirteen years of my working relationship with Nico Castel, I can honestly say that I learned more about Verdi and the importance of the Verdi text in opera than one could learn in eight years of conservatory study. I have now sung more than twelve Verdi operas, each one with its own personality and interpretation. A great deal of my success in over 65 performances of Ferrando in "Il Trovatore" and 60 of Sparafucile in "Rigoletto" goes to Nico Castel, who actually made the text come alive for me. Communication of text is key in my performance and Nico is a master. Thanks, my friend!
- Jeffrey Wells, Bass, Metropolitan Opera
My esteemed friend and colleague, Nico Castel, is a brilliant master of many languages and an excellent tenor. He was instrumental in teaching me how to sing in French and I shall be eternally grateful to him for his priceless help in preparing me to perform the roles of Don José in "Carmen," Samson in "Samson and Delilah" and Aeneas in "Les Troyens."
- Gary Lakes, Tenor, Metropolitan Opera
The importance of diction for singers is unquestionable, but the importance of diction teachers is immeasurable. Even more important is the diction teacher who also understands vocal technique and vocal necessities in applying the diction. Nico Castel is such a teacher. There is no doubt that my understanding and application of proper diction rules have been greatly developed by studying with Nico Castel.
- Raymond Aceto, Bass, Metropolitan Opera
What Nico Castel brings to his work is not only a solution to the problem at hand or a set of rules to memorize. Nico goes further to ignite the spark of curiosity which changes the way one works from that moment on. Surely he merits the title of "Language and Diction Guru." Bravo Nico!
- Frank Lopardo, Tenor, Metropolitan Opera.
From the time of my Met debut in the same cast with my friend and colleague, Nico Castel, it has been a privilege to serve with him in the world of music. He is a musical resource to all of us - his gift being not merely in languages but intellect, experience and performance. An unassailable scholar with both feet in "the real world," we are all in Nico's debt for preserving much of his knowledge on the printed page. His books will be indispensable tools for singers and teachers.
- Rita Shane, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera and Professor of Voice, Eastman School of Music
Nico works with a singer beyond the rules of proper articulation. He teaches the nuance and rich coloration found in the words of the language that helps each artist discover a more expressive foundation for interpretation.
- Judith Cristin, Mezzo-Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
In the course of my developing career, I can say with enormous confidence that whatever linguistic proficiency I have I owe to Nico Castel. My introduction to Nico's brilliance was during my two years at the Manhattan School of Music and continued after my graduation, during engagements at the Met, and in preparation for engagements elsewhere. His pronunciation is so exemplary that it even travels over the phone lines, as I learned when I called him in panic for a last minute brush-up on "Nuits D'été." Nico's books are a tremendous treasure to future (and present) opera singers and opera lovers. Thanks, Nico, for unlocking some of these mysteries for us! Lots of love and gratitude.
- Susan Graham, Mezzo-Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
My development with Nico Castel's guidance has been as important and helpful to my career as my studies in any other areas. He adjusts his comments with each singer individually and carefully so as not to disturb either the correctness of phonetic sound or the technical intricacies of the singing process. He brings a special passion and love to his art... one is immediately taken, even enthralled with his special flair.
- Mark Oswald, Baritone, Metropolitan Opera
I have just had the pleasure of examining Nico Castel's edition of libretti of Puccini's operas. Having observed Mr. Castel's work for a quarter of a century as singer, actor, language expert and lecturer, I can say that this new venture complements his work fully and adds a new dimension to anything previously available. Nico Castel has given us a reference unique in completeness, clarity and ease of use. The hours that will be saved thereby by conductors, directors, singers and coaches will be usable for deeper interpretative exploration. I look forward to owning this volume and the successive Verdi, Mozart and other libretti collections.
- Richard Woitach, Conductor, Metropolitan Opera
Nico Castel has served as a supporting and an informative teacher to me since I won the Met competition in 1988. His skill makes him the perfect scholar to undertake this massive project of the opera libretti translations and phonetic transcriptions. I am looking forward to using his books for the new Verdi roles I have coming up and to re-study others as well. Thank you, Nico!
- Renée Fleming, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
The guidance and instruction from Nico Castel early in my career have proven to be the most substantial and valued contributions to my performance preparation. I shall always be grateful that I was so fortunate to have experienced the great gifts of this remarkable artist and teacher.
- Robert Hale, Bass-Baritone, Metropolitan Opera
At last! A definitive reference book for singers, directors, students and virtually anyone interested in understanding opera. I can't think of anyone more qualified to author such an undertaking than Nico Castel, with his remarkable command of languages and all of their nuances. My own working relationship with Nico began in the early 70's and continues to this day. His assistance has been invaluable to me for all of my roles in the Italian, French and German repertoire, most recently Wotan in Wagner's Ring cycle. He started with me on day one of that project and it is impossible to imagine what the outcome would have been without his help. Thank you, Nico.
- James Morris, Bass-Baritone, Metropolitan Opera
From Nico Castel, great artist, teacher and friend, one can only expect the best. His energy, vast experience, excellence and good humor are invaluable assets in a teacher and my admiration for him has no limits.
- Veronica Villarroel, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
Nico Castel continues to be one of the most important influences on my professional life at the Metropolitan Opera. In his studio I have learned the phonetics and rules of the languages and much more. With a twinkle in his eye Nico Castel ties all the elements together in a way that anyone can understand. I hope everyone can experience the love, dedication and exhuberance from this great artist!
- Kevin Murphy, Coach/Accompanist, Metropolitan Opera
Nico Castel is a remarkable coach combining the skills of his natural singing talents with his meticulous command of the languages. Inspired by his respect for the dignity of his subject, he motivates others to excellence and through his unique illustrative teaching style instills in them a vast knowledge of the language.
- Rosalind Elias, Mezzo-Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
Nico's brilliant new books should be the reference books of the century for aspiring opera singers and opera lovers everywhere. They should have been written long ago for they could have saved me countless hours doing translations, study and research during my own career. I can't imagine a more qualified as well as pleasant and brilliant person to take on such a huge project as this one.
- Judith Blegen, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
For many years I have been a great admirer of Nico Castel. As an opera conductor I have turned to Nico in preparing libretti in French, German and Italian. Theory and practice are as wonderfully balanced in his teaching as they have been in his own singing career. He has been an integral and consistent source of reliable, practical information to professionals for decades. He has a well-integrated approach to phonetics that gives the serious student invaluable tools with which to develop. His infectious energy and skill in helping his students become independent artists are two of the hallmarks of his teaching. I am delighted to know that Nico Castel's teaching will now become available to singers, conductors, coaches, stage directors and virtually all who love language and singing for years to come and that this book, as well as the many to follow will contribute immeasurably to the vocal arts.
- Hal France, Conductor, New York City Opera Company
Nico Castel has been one of the treasures in my preparation for a career in singing. He has a beautiful way of explaining the intricacies of a language that can be easily understood and applied. Some of the simple rules he has presented have truly affected the way I sing. He is a marvellous vocal coach as well as a diction master who actually uses diction to help the singing process. As an American singer, I feel confident in the international world of singing thanks in large part to Nico Castel.
- Heidi Grant Murphy, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
To find, in the world of opera, a master with the talent and the knowledge that Nico Castel possesses and a man with his inexhaustible sense of humor and gift for teaching is like finding water in the desert. To talk about Nico is not difficult; he is a man with a great capacity for work, deep knowledge, boundless talent and a remarkable gift for teaching. As far as language and diction are concerned Nico Castel is undoubtedly perfection.
- Fernando De La Mora, Tenor, Metropolitan Opera
The preparation of a role in my repertoire is never complete without my work with Nico Castel. These volumes are invaluable treasures for anyone studying the pronunciation and comprehension of libretti in the operatic literature. Style is founded in language and, for me, both are personified in one man: Nico Castel.
- Frances Ginsberg, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
They should build a statue to Nico Castel at the Metropolitan Opera! For the last eleven years I have worked with him any and every time I had an important engagement. I have performed all over the world from Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Paris and London to New York and have done so with much greater confidence for having coached every word, every nuance, every shape and color of pronunciation with Nico Castel. He is an astonishingly gifted performer and his gifts as a teacher are unsurpassed! Best of all, he does this with a brilliant sense of humor. These books must surely be a most important part of any serious musician's library. To my knowledge, there isn't anyone else who has contributed study aids of this magnitude to those of us who want to spend a lifetime learning.
- Sylvia McNair, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
I am thankful to Nico for always finding the best and most explicit way of teaching diction to singers. I admire him not only as a diction coach but also as a wonderful artist. Thanks so much for helping me with "Fille du Régiment." I congratulate you on this wonderful series of reference books, which will be a tremendous help to future and present generations of singers.
- Harolyn Blackwell, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
Nico has a rare gift for pinpointing problems with diction and style and an even rarer gift for knowing how to solve them. This stems from the fact that he has himself had an operatic and concert career and therefore understands things from the singer's perspective. His enthusiastic approach to the subject matter is nothing short of infectious.
- Dawn Upshaw, Soprano, Metropolitan Opera
Thank you for your libretto translations. What you have done and are doing with this project rocks and establishes my generation of American singers as well as generations to come. What an awesome undertaking! With this project you will help create singer-actors and help to empower them with confidence in knowing what they are singing and how they are to say it. With this bible of information you will make singers accountable for this knowledge. I say this from my heart.
- Earl Patriarco, Baritone, Metropolitan Opera
The staggering amount of information in the pages that follow could only have been achieved by one who has dedicated his life to the search for knowledge, and found it! I have never met a language scholar whose scope is as broad-ranging, whose enthusiasm is as inexhaustible, whose sheer joy as infectious. This is a collection of real worth by a man who is himself a real gift.
- Richard Croft, Tenor, Metropolitan Opera
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 possible heretofore. Bravo, Nico, for this invaluable legacy!
- Plácido Domingo, Tenor/Conductor, Metropolitan Opera.
His books of major libretti of French, German and Italian operas may well represent the most important contribution to the art of opera singing in the last century.
- Will Graham, Director, Fletcher Foundation, North Carolina School for the Arts Opera Program
Copyright © Leyerle Publications 2001. All Rights Reserved.