The Castleton Festival grew out of private concerts given by founder Maestro Lorin Maazel and his friends nearly twenty years ago. In 2006, the Castleton Residency program was launched at Castleton, the first form of the young artist program that would become the driving force of the organization. In 2009, Maazel and his wife Dietlinde Turban Maazel officially established the Castleton Festival, a world-class performance entity built around a first-rate educational program that brings exceptional classical music, opera, jazz, bluegrass and theatre to the rolling hills of Rappahannock County, Virginia.
Maestro Maazel had a tremendous devotion to fostering young artists and audiences for Western Classical music. His phenomenal career spanned over 70 years, beginning when he was a child prodigy, conducting the NBC Symphony at the age of 11 at the personal invitation of Arturo Toscanini. The Castleton Artists Training Seminar grew out of the passions of Maestro Maazel and his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel, current CEO and Artistic Director who began her acting career with a professional debut at the age of 19. The Maazels developed a program that would allow a young artists not only to study under but also to live with their teachers and mentors. To date, more than 350 young artists have benefited from the Castleton Artists Training Seminar.
A unique feature of Castleton is that every participant becomes part of a network for the future. The artistic leaders of the CATS program offer ongoing advice and guidance to alumni beyond the Seminar and shape the Festival’s programming decisions to fit the needs of the outstanding talents they have identified.
This training program combines education with the opportunity to build the student’s resume through performed and covered roles. Each of the members of the Seminar is guaranteed to appear in our mainstage opera productions, either as a member of the ensemble or in comprimario or cover roles. The Seminar consists of a seven-week session with vocal training, classes in European languages, acting and performance skills, monologue studies, Alexander Technique, dance, stage combat, career preparation, audition techniques, digital marketing, and multiple performance opportunities. Visiting international agents and Artistic Directors of renowned opera companies nationwide give masterclasses and audition opportunities. Castleton faculty members are leaders in the field academically and onstage, and living in such close harmony with all members of the Festival allows for unprecedented personal attention. Previous faculty have included such luminaries as Denyce Graves, Carol Vaness, James Morris, Richard Stilwell, Neil Shicoff, Alessandra Marc, Eduardo Chama, and Richard Leech.