September 26, 2018
To launch the new season, Stephen Costello – “the all-American tenor … at the top of his game” (Opera News) – makes his role debut as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen at the Dallas Opera, where he has become a firm house favorite over the past twelve years. Next, November 16 brings his solo album debut, with the release of A te, o cara, a collection of bel canto arias on the Delos label. The new season also sees the Tucker Award-winning tenor reprise his celebrated interpretation of Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata in returns to the Hamburg State Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where he stars in a new staging by Michael Mayer. A second signature role, La bohème’s Rodolfo, takes him back to Germany’s Dresden Opera and Mannheim, while his role debut as another of Puccini’s leading men – Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly – is the vehicle for his Japanese operatic debut in Tokyo. As the Toronto Star recently remarked, Costello is “the best American operatic tenor the world has right now. He produces the kind of ringing, opera house-filling notes that give opera lovers goosebumps.”
Role debut in Carmen at Dallas Opera
Costello makes his role debut as Carmen’s doomed leading man opposite French mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac in six performances under the baton of Dallas Opera’s Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume, this fall (Oct 19–Nov 4). The production marks the latest in a succession of key firsts that the tenor has made on the Dallas stage over the course of the 38 performances he has given at the house to date. It was there that he made his unscheduled house and role debuts as Maria Stuarda’s Earl of Leicester back in 2006, before returning a year later for his planned performances in The Merry Widow. His many subsequent returns include creating the role of Greenhorn (Ishmael) in the company’s feted world premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, and such notable role debuts as Tchaikovsky’s Lensky, and Massenet’s Chevalier des Grieux, of whom his portrayal proved “nothing short of astonishing” (Opera News). Small wonder that, as the Dallas Observer puts it, “We can’t get enough of operatic tenor Stephen Costello.”
David Lomeli, the Dallas Opera’s Director of Artistic Administration, comments:
“My dear friend and colleague Stephen Costello is on the cusp of the greatest period in a tenor’s career. Having not only survived – but thrived – while performing at the highest possible level for more than a dozen years, Stephen now sets his sights on the challenging role of Don José, a big role that demands everything in a tenor’s arsenal: passion, legato, soft high singing, a great sense of phrasing, and those unforgiving high notes. Truly, this is one of the most difficult roles in the romantic tenor repertoire, and it is an honor to host Stephen’s debut as this iconic lead character.”
On a more personal note, Lomeli adds:
“I can still remember the thrill of hearing his debut as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor on Met Opera radio. I was actively touring at that time, as a tenor, and felt that this was the sort of competition that would inspire me to do my best. It’s a happy coincidence that we should be working together again at a company we both have enthusiastically championed.”
The tenor himself reflects:
“I’ve sung more at the Dallas Opera than any place else. The company has been extremely supportive of my career. Moby-Dick was one of the most gratifying artistic experiences I’ve ever had – a real breakthrough for me – and I did my first Russian opera there too. Dallas has great management in place now and I’m so happy to continue my relationship with such a fantastic team. I especially love working with Emmanuel – he’s a very generous conductor who always listens to the singers. He’s a great influence and we always have good chemistry together.
“I’m really looking forward to singing my first Don José. He’s probably the most unhinged character I’ve ever played, and a more dramatic role for me than usual. I wanted to do something that would stretch me a little bit, and it’s an ideal situation when a company comes to you wanting to do something new and is so supportive and enthusiastic. They’ll really help me mold the role and explore it.”
To celebrate Costello’s eagerly anticipated return to the house, Dallas Opera looks forward to presenting him in a special “Artist Salon/Q&A” event (Oct 25). Here the tenor will not only appear in conversation but will also sing favorite arias from his forthcoming solo album, of which he will sign advance copies in anticipation of its official release three weeks later.
A te, o cara: solo album debut on Delos
Dedicated by the tenor to his dear friend and colleague, the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky, A te, o cara (“To you, oh dear one”) was recorded with Constantine Orbelian leading Lithuania’s Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra. Its program combines “Parmi veder le lagrime” from Verdi’s Rigoletto and the title track, “A te, o cara, amor talora,” from Bellini’s I puritani, with arias from seven Donizetti operas: Anna Bolena, Don Pasquale, Dom Sébastien, La favorite, La fille du régiment, L’elisir d’amore, and Lucia di Lammermoor. Costello says:
“This is a really exciting moment in my career. I’ve been considering making a solo album for a while. I looked at it like curating my own concert, and the theme of bel canto arias began to emerge. Every aria is about love, and each one really expresses a different theme or aspect of love, ranging from fulfillment to longing, jealousy, and torture. We have all had these different ups and downs with love – love is sometimes our friend and sometimes our enemy – and although an aria may sound beautiful, it may be about the way love can torture your soul.”
Bel canto operas, especially those of Donizetti, have long loomed large in the tenor’s career. Recent seasons have seen him sing Lord Percy to Anna Netrebko’s Anna Bolena in the Met’s premiere production of the opera, and Edgardo in new stagings of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House and Canadian Opera Company, while his Nemorino has been justly celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic. In L’elisir d’amore at Washington National Opera, it was he who was greeted with “the warmest applause of the night” (Washington Post), while at Glyndebourne, the Arts Desk called his portrayal “a revelation,” and The Times of London stated simply: “The best voice on stage belongs to Stephen Costello.” Click here to hear Costello sing Nemorino’s aria “Una furtiva lagrima” on A te, o cara.
Michael Mayer’s new Traviata at the Met, Japanese operatic debut, and more
Next spring, the tenor anchors two productions of La traviata as Alfredo, the signature role that confirmed his “place among the world’s best tenors” (Daily Express, UK). He returns first to Hamburg State Opera (March 14-19) and then to the Metropolitan Opera, where he sings opposite Anita Hartig under Nicola Luisotti’s leadership in a new staging of the opera by Michael Mayer, who previously directed him in the company’s hit Rigoletto (April 5-27).
Another staple of Costello’s repertoire is Rodolfo, which he reprises in productions of La bohème at the Dresden Opera (Dec 22–March 23) and Mannheim’s National Theater (Jan 12) this winter. Puccini’s hero was the vehicle for his debuts, not only in Dresden but at both the Berlin and Bavarian State Operas, as well as for engagements at the Vienna State Opera, where his performance was “vocally and dramatically enchanting” (Der Standard); at the Los Angeles Opera, where he proved “a spectacular Rodolfo” (Music and Vision); and at Cincinnati Opera, where the “sweet intensity” of his “fresh, Italianate tenor was consistently a joy to hear.”
Marking both his role and Japanese operatic debuts, Costello gives his first performances as another of Puccini’s leading men, when he sings his first Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. Donato Renzetti leads the Tokyo Philharmonic in Tamiya Kuriyama’s production (June 1–9).
Rounding out the season, Costello joins soprano Angela Gheorghiu for a gala concert with Bulgaria’s Sofia Philharmonic (Feb 25) and returns to San Diego Opera, which previously hosted his title role debut in Gounod’s Faust, for “One Amazing Night,” a festive evening of operatic arias and duets with baritone Stephen Powell (May 15).
Past season highlights
These engagements follow a full 2017-18 season for the tenor. Highlights included his Paris Opera debut, for which he gave his first German-language account of Camille in The Merry Widow, impressing Diapason with his “agile tenor, impeccably projected.” Besides singing Rodolfo for his Dresden Opera debut and his return to the Teatro Real Madrid, he revisited another signature role – the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto – at the Canadian Opera Company, Dresden Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin, where Resmusica reported:
“The Duke of Mantua is perfectly undertaken by Stephen Costello, the beauty of his timbre allied to such direct projection that he was audible even from the wings. His style is never overwrought, despite how hard it is to keep a balance when his character sings almost nothing but arias. His ‘Donna e Mobile’ started magnificently and was even better by the end.”
Costello concluded the season with an “excellent performance” (Mundo Classico) in his house and role debuts as Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La favorite at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. As Opera Wire observed, when selecting him as its Artist of the Week this past July, “Stephen Costello has long been one of the leading lyric tenors of his generation. His vocal beauty and stage presence have brought great acclaim and his vast repertoire has also shown his virtuosic power.”
High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.
Stephen Costello: 2018-19 engagements
Oct 19, 21, 24, 27; Nov 2 & 4
Bizet: Carmen (Don José; role debut)
Dec 22; Jan 1, 3, 6; Feb 15, 23; March 23
Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
Mannheim National Theater
Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
Gala Concert (with Angela Gheorghiu, soprano)
March 14, 16 & 19
Hamburg State Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
April 5, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24 & 27
New York, NY
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
San Diego, CA
San Diego Opera
“One Amazing Night” (with Stephen Powell, baritone)
June 1, 4, 7 & 9
Tokyo, Japan (operatic debut)
New National Theatre
Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton; role debut)
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© 21C Media Group, September 2018