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Teresa Castillo Lamont Alumni Profile

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Ian Wisekal

by Ian Wisekal

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Zooming in from her tidy apartment at the northern tip of Manhattan, Teresa Castillo met me with a warm smile. A native of Aurora, Colorado, the soprano and Lamont grad (MM ’13) has had a long and eventful journey since her days on the Front Range.

At Lamont, Castillo sang in the school’s productions of Marriage of Figaro and Hansel and Gretel, also traveling with the cast of Figaro to sing an encore performance in Yakima, Washington. That trip was a highlight of her Lamont days, recalls Castillo: “There’s a beautiful theater there, and the area itself was beautiful; we even met the mayor!” The pre- and post-show experiences, although routine, were just as meaningful. Castillo and the rest of the cast helped to build the sets and afterwards dismantle everything, followed by the traditional pizza party. “You’re all exhausted, especially when the opera is over,” she laughed, “but it’s so nice to hang out with everyone after all the singing and all the manual labor.”

When she first moved to New York in 2015, like many young people, Castillo lived with roommates and worked odd jobs before being accepted to prestigious young artist programs. She sang in the Bel Canto program at Caramoor (later called Teatro Nuovo), the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where she reunited with fellow Lamont alumna Sarah Cambidge, and the Herndon Emerging Artist Program at Virginia Opera. “I got paid to sing; it was very exciting,” said Castillo of these programs.

Since then, the soprano has graced the stage of Carnegie Hall multiple times, including in the debut of a work by Lamont alumnus Kevin Padworski and with renowned conductor and composer John Rutter. Castillo was due to rejoin Rutter at Carnegie as a soloist in the composer’s Gloria, and she was slated to sing for Pope Francis at the Vatican as a result of her prize in the Altamuro/Caruso International Voice Competition. Due to the pandemic, both performances were cancelled.

Thinking back to early 2020, running endlessly between musical and non-musical jobs, Castillo needed a break. “There was some relief when the pandemic hit,” she admitted. With so much more time on her hands, Castillo got back into bicycling, became more adventurous in her cooking, and even taught herself to juggle.

What’s more, without so much external pressure, added Castillo, “it rekindled my love for singing.” She practiced basics and fundamentals every day and started to make videos as a creative outlet amid the monotony of lockdown. One of these videos, her first ever on the TikTok platform, included the famous, fiendish aria sung by the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. To her surprise, the video garnered over half a million views and led to her being cast as the cover for the role in in the 2021 production of Flute by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, one of the country’s premier houses.

Since performances have restarted, aside from her work in Chicago, Castillo has taught masterclasses and performed in New York, Miami and Idaho. Among other engagements this year, she will be returning to Teatro Nuovo in La Sonnambula and performing twice with Opera San Jose, singing Frasquita in Carmen and Maria in West Side Story.

Wherever she goes, Castillo will be bringing her buoyant personality, can-do attitude, and the encouragement and support of the Lamont community.