Charles Fornara
Charles Fornara






The Story of Charles Fornara

Charles Fornara was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 12, 1965. Piano lessons began very early, and at the age of five he made his first stage appearance, singing "I'm Called Little Buttercup" (Gilbert & Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore") at the First Grade Talent Show, where he also offered a piano solo.

At the age of eleven, he had the opportunity to participate in a college production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe," directed by actress (then Brown University student) Bess Armstrong. It was this experience, and especially working with Miss Armstrong, that infected him once and for all with the performing bug. Fornara continued his musical training, became rehearsal pianist and High-school Chorus accompanist, and gave several piano recitals over the next few years.

In 1982 he made his professional stage debut, again in the operetta "Iolanthe," as a member of the ensemble, at the Cabot Street Playhouse in Providence. In the following summer, again at Cabot Street in the show "Patience," one of the lead actors fell ill after the premiere - Fornara had his chance. Called out of the chorus, he took over the role of Grosvenor for the remainder of the run, and remained in lead roles for the company, under the tutelage of Judy Shroeder, until the summer of 1990.

In 1986, Charles graduated from Columbia College in New York City with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics. In 1987, under the baton of world-famous conductor Yves Abel, Charles Fornara made his opera debut, singing the role of Grégorio in Gounod's "Roméo et Juliette" in the inaugural production of L'Opéra Français de New York." In 1990, his last summer at Cabot Street, he performed for the first time his favorite opera role: Papageno in Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

However, all this time, Charles hadn't really considered a career on the stage. Directly after college, he taught seventh and eighth grade Latin at The Town School in New York, and moved to The Trinity School (seventh through eleventh grade Latin) in 1989. In 1991, he began to study voice intensively with Joan Caplan, and during this time performed many leading baritone roles with The Bronx Opera, including once again his signature role of Papageno.

His first professional musical theatre appearance was in the role of Beadle Bamford, in Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," at the Hilton Head Playhouse, South Carolina, in the summer of 1991. He returned to Hilton Head in the summers of 1992, 1994 and 1996, performing the roles of Carl-Magnus ("A Little Night Music"), Doctor Craven ("The Secret Garden") and Jud Fry ("Oklahoma!"). Finally in 1995, he took the plunge, taking a leave-of-absence from Trinity.

After a year and a half as a church-choir singer in New York, and performer in various other productions, he received an offer to play Old Deuteronomy in "CATS" in Hamburg, Germany. After a year and a half there, he moved to Duisburg to fulfill a dream - "Les Misérables" - six months as alternate for Jean Valjean and Javert, and six months as first-cast Valjean, including the exciting and emotional last show in Duisburg.

As Count von Krolock and Conductor (his conducting career had also begun in New York, in 1989), he spent a year in Stuttgart in Jim Steinman and Roman Polanski's "Dance of the Vampires." Then, as rehearsal pianist at CATS-Stuttgart, he also had the opportunity to don the old coat and reprise his role of Old Deuteronomy several times.

In 2001, with director Matthias Davids, he created the role of Giocondo in the world premiere of "The Secret of the Mona Lisa," and, again with Davids, played the tortured Anatoly Sergievsky in "Chess" at the State Theatre of Kassel. In April of 2002, Fornara started teaching at the Stella Musical Academy in Hamburg, offering voice lessons, coaching, and leading the choir.