Thomas “Tom” Cilluffo is an operatic tenor and craftsman from Traverse City, Michigan.
Tom received a Bachelors and Masters degree in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance where he studied under the legendary tenor, George Shirley (Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Voice).
While at the University of Michigan, Tom performed various roles with the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD), the University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society (UMGASS), Comic Opera Guild (COG), and Arbor Opera Theater. Roles with SMTD include “Rinuccio” in Gianni Schicchi, “Roméo” in Roméo et Juliette, and “Puck” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With UMGASS, Tom performed many of Gilbert and Sullivan’s leading tenor roles including “Ralph Rackstraw” in HMS Pinafore, “Frederic” in The Pirates of Penzance, “Marco Palmieri” in The Gondoliers, and “Colonel Fairfax” in The Yeomen of the Guard. With COG, he sang “Count Almaviva” in their production of The Barber of Seville. With Arbor Opera Theater, Tom played the role of Anthony Candolino in their production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class.
Beyond Ann Arbor, Tom performed with various organizations around the Midwest, including the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, the Brighton Symphony Orchestra, the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Tom sang with the Castleton Festival in rural Virginia under tenors Stanford Olsen and Tyler Nelson, Pittsburgh Festival Opera in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania under Mildred Miller-Posvar, and with Prague Summer Nights Festival in both their productions of Gianni Schicchi (Rinuccio) and Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) directed by Maria Zouves and baritone, Sherrill Milnes.
From 2017 – 2019, Tom held post as a Resident Artist with the Portland Opera in Portland, Oregon. In their 2017/2018 season, Tom sang the role of Matteo Borsa in Rigoletto while covering the Duke of Mantua. Tom also covered Faust in Faust, and Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola. Late in summer of 2018, Tom stepped into the role of Spoletta in Puccini’s Tosca with the Portland SummerFest after a last-minute cancellation. During Portland Opera’s 2018-2019 season, Tom sang the Sergeant of Police in Il Barbiere di Siviglia while covering Count Almaviva. Tom then sang the role of Contino Belfiore in a new production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera.
Tom is perfectly at home in the concert hall as well as in the theater. While in Portland, Tom gave two annual recitals showcasing such varied composers as Schumann, Duparc, Finzi and even Elvis Presley.
Also while in Portland, Tom participated in Portland Opera’s educational outreach program, Portland Opera To Go, to bring shortened operas to schools and community centers all over the Pacific Northwest. He sang Tamino in a story-book production of The Magic Flute, and Almaviva in a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) tour of The Barber of Seville.
Following his tenure in Portland, Tom moved to Denver, Colorado to be the tenor Artist in Residence with Opera Colorado. While with Opera Colorado, Tom sang in touring productions of Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel as the Witch, and Bizet’s Carmen as Don José. For their mainstage productions, Tom covered (and performed) Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, covered Beppe in Pagliacci, and was to return to the role of Spoletta in Tosca but due to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and rapid shift to social isolation, Opera Colorado was forced to cancel their scheduled performance for the safety of their artists and patrons. The Artists in Residence continued to perform remotely from their homes.
Summer of 2020, Tom was scheduled to be an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera, covering roles in Die Zauberflöte, and singing chorus in their productions of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Dvořák’s Rusalka, and the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s new M. Butterfly. However, due to COVID-19, the Santa Fe Opera, like many opera companies around the world, had to cancel their 2020 summer season in order to protect their audiences and employees.
Tom moved back to his native northern Michigan for the remainder of 2020.
While quarantining, Tom storyboarded and produced a socially-distanced “Selfie Opera” of the final scene in Pagliacci, also known as “The Play.” Using Instagram & Snapchat video filters, Tom simultaneously filmed & sang all five of the principal roles (including Nedda, the soprano), using minimal sets and costumes over the span of five days. Production began on October 25, 2020, “World Opera Day” and was completed by October 30th. Over the next several hours, Tom cut and edited the entire video together, and it was released on Halloween morning, 2020. You can see this video over on his media page!
After a year of uncertainty, Tom was thrilled to return to the stage in 2021 as an Apprentice Artist for the Santa Fe Opera where he performed the role of Don Curzio in their production of Le Nozze di Figaro, covering M. Triquet in Eugene Onegin, and chorus for both Eugene Onegin and the world premiere of John Corgliano’s The Lord of Cries.
In Fall of 2021, Tom was named a finalist in the Gerda Lissner Competition in NYC. Tom then performed with the Livermore Valley Opera in their 30th Anniversary Gala before returning to Michigan to film another Selfie Opera: “Zwangvolle Plage!” Mime’s opening aria from Wagner’s Siegfried.
In December of 2021, Tom was awarded first place in the 5th annual Premiere Opera Foundation International Vocal Competition / NYIOP International Casting Auditions in New York City.
Tom will return to the Santa Fe Opera for their 2022 season in the role of Bardolfo in Sir David McVicar’s new production of Verdi’s Falstaff. He will also sing in the choruses of Bizet’s Carmen, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly.
Tom and his partner now reside in the Bronx, NY, where he continues to pursue solo and choral work as well as hand-crafting bespoke conducting batons.
As COVID continues to rage across the world, please, stay safe!
If you have further questions or would like to follow Tom on his adventures, head on over to his professional facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tcilluff or view his contact page at http://www.tomcilluffo.com/contact
Besides being a performer & entertainer, Tom enjoys working with his hands as a craftsman. He is a trained blacksmith, metalsmith, jeweler, and woodworker, and has some leatherworking and glassblowing experience. Tom has put these skills to good use in the theater, as he has designed, built, and repaired various props and sets over the years. As a craftsman, he is primarily known as a maker of fine conducting batons which he has provided for choral and orchestral conductors all over the world. He has even been known to make a magic wand or two! Tom is more than happy to speak with you to design and craft a custom conducting baton* for you or someone you know! If you have further questions or would like to see a gallery of his work, please visit http://www.facebook.com/BeauxBaToms/
*Knitting needles, Nålebinding needles, yarn spindles, wands, etc.