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
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.