Michael Ciufo

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Michael Ciufo

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“… A powerful presence that fills a room with melody” - Amazing Canadian Magazine

Canadian tenor Michael Ciufo (choo-foe) is quickly becoming known for his stage presence, charisma, and gorgeous voice. Still in his early twenties, this classically trained performer is constantly looking for new musical challenges while he continues his serious operatic studies. Michael is on the debut circuit, having recently made appearances in a wide range of roles such as the “Evangelist” in the Ontario premiere of Ivan Moody’s Passion and Resurrection with the Orpheus Choir (February 2009); his first major tenor role as 'Il Contino Belfiore' in Mozart’s "La finta giardiniera" as part of the Royal Conservatory’s Summer Opera Program (July 2009); and he headlined a sold-out Mississauga Living Arts Centre performance entitled, “Michael Ciufo in Concert” (June 2009). Of this event, Michael says, “Headlining the LAC was one thing, but selling out the 300 seats was the real joy. It felt like the event was a success before I had even sung a note. It’s great to know that I have loyal supporters who follow my career!”

In recent years, Michael has been honing his craft participating in various events: in 2009, he performed at Markham’s "Rising Star" concert series; had a debut recital at the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto; and headlined Mississauga’s Canada Day Celebrations. In 2008 he performed at Toronto’s Centre Stage Benefit Concert and twice at Mississauga’s “Knight for Hope” concerts alongside world-renowned Canadian vocalists Michael Burgess and The Nylons. “It was a thrill to be on the same bill as those artists,” Michael says, “and I performed a duet with Michael Burgess. They are very supportive of the younger generation of talent, and Michael has called me many times to perform at various charity functions, which is an honour.”

Michael Ciufo was thrilled to be invited to perform in a nationally broadcast concert performance in Pisticci, Italy, in honour of the late Johnny Lombardi. Mr. Lombardi was awarded the Order of Canada for his pioneering of multicultural broadcasting in Canada, long before it became government policy. “Going to Italy and singing in front of thousands of people in a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre is the stuff dreams are made of. I was incredibly proud as a Canadian of Italian ancestry to be sharing my love of song with everyone. I can’t wait to sing in Italy again!”

Currently, Michael is collaborating with Canadian songwriter and producer Chris Bilton and the two are putting in the hours in the recording studio on Michael’s second CD. The album, which will be released in 2010, will include Michael’s original material and a couple of carefully selected pop and classical cover songs. On their collaboration, Michael explains: “I was lucky when I met Chris – we clicked on an unbelievably high level. He’s an incredible composer, musician, melodist, you name it. He’s open and listens to any ideas I may have, about his work or my own. We’ve developed a system for writing music and I can’t wait to reveal the results.” Michael Ciufo’s debut recording, "Vieni Sul Mar – A Collection of Italian Songs" was released independently in 2006.

Some musicians know from the get-go “this is what I want to do.” Many others are torn between music and another field before making the choice. Michael Ciufo was the latter. Music had always been in the background during his formative years, and he took to it naturally. His “aha” moment came at age 17 when he had the opportunity to perform one solo piece at the Pantheon in Rome during a school trip. This experience caused him to seriously consider a musical path. “I’d always loved music, but I must have suppressed exactly how much growing up,” Michael explains. “This was my first trip outside of Canada, so it was already a big deal to me. And to perform there was truly inspiring and magical. When I look back on it, I was overwhelmed with how much this world has to offer. I realized I wanted to do something that involved plenty of traveling and exploring.” Even though he was accepted into the life science programs at McMaster University and the University of Toronto with the goal of becoming a cardiologist, he auditioned for the prestigious Glenn Gould School’s Vocal Performance Program – and was accepted on full scholarship! Either way, it was a matter of the heart, and Michael chose music.

Giving back is an important part of Michael’s artistic philosophy, and he is committed to various charities: the Canadian Cancer Society, including Wellspring, an important support network for cancer patients and their families; Credit Valley Hospital, and Mississauga’s United Way. He is also deeply committed to music education for youths, since he was exposed to music at a young age, and experienced first hand the severe depletion of music, especially in the elementary school system. “I’ll do whatever I can to introduce youths to music. It’s terribly important!” he says emphatically.

Working on a Bachelor of Music degree at the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music is an excellent place to cut your teeth (not literally, of course) in opera. Michael first sang significant roles that he may very well sing in a few years time professionally, once his voice matures. Unlike instrumentalists who need time only to gain experience, singers need time for their voices to mature as well as gain experience. Michael’s opera experience includes Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”, the Canadian premiere of Respighi’s “The Sleeping Beauty”, and Handel’s “Joshua” with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto. He has performed the title role in the concert premiere of "Hamlet", a new opera written by Toronto-born composer Mark Richards, both in Toronto and in Stratford, Ontario, for the Stratford Summer Music Soirees. Currently, Michael is a third year Sidgwick Scholar with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, under choral conductor Robert Cooper. Being an ensemble member in professional productions is a great way to get a feel for onstage experience for a paying audience – and Michael has done so, with Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s "Idomeneo" and "The Magic Flute", and he’s had the pleasure of studying at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Music Institute with Rufus Müller in Toronto. Now enrolled in the Artist Diploma Program at the Glenn Gould School, Michael is studying voice with Stephanie Bogle.