Joyce Castle MM 66

An extraordinarily versatile mezzo-soprano whose repertoire extends from Strauss and Wagner to Bernstein and Sondheim, Joyce Castle has been praised internationally for her "richly nuanced voice, profound dramatic skills, and superb musicianship." Opera magazine called her "perhaps our best character mezzo in any opera house."

As a master's student at Eastman, Joyce Castle sang for Igor Stravinsky himself, and throughout her career has been closely associated with contemporary composers of all musical sympathies: from Ives to Ligeti, from Bernstein to Torke, from Sondheim to Schnittke. While continuing to pursue her professional career, she serves on the faculty of the University of Kansas as an Artist in Residence.


Joyce Castle has sung many times at the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, as well as companies in Seattle, Chicago, Montreal, Minnesota, and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She has played women ranging from Queen Elizabeth I of England, to Sweeney Todd's partner Mrs. Lovett, creator of the worst pies in London; from an aging Mother Superior terrified of death, to the world's wealthiest (and perhaps craziest) woman; from a sweet old grandmother who dies in Central Park's Strawberry Fields, to a bawdy Old Lady who teaches a thing or two to that perennial innocent, Candide. Her playing of Herodias in Strauss' Salome was called "the very essence of dysfunctional motherhood," and of her performance as Fricka in Wagner's Götterdämmerung, one critic wrote "Her scenes with Wotan left no one in doubt for a moment that she was wearing the pants in this family." Clearly, Joyce Castle is an artist to reckon with. The noted stage director JoAnne Akalaitis said it most concisely: "She is one of the greatest actresses I have ever worked with."


For her skill in creating a vast portrait gallery of indelible operatic characters, and for a career marked by commitment to vocal music of all kinds, the Eastman School is pleased to present Joyce Castle with its Alumni Achievement Award.

Rochester, New York
May 16, 2004