Press Room

Stephen Costello headlines WNO “L’elisir” and Baltimore gala this spring

Richard Tucker Award-winning tenor Stephen Costello reprises his star turn as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at Washington National Opera (WNO) from March 20–29, following his triumphant house debut as Ishmael/Greenhorn – the role he originally created – in WNO’s recent East Coast premiere of Moby-Dick. The Kennedy Center production kicks off a full spring for the tenor, who looks forward to headlining “Toujours L’Amour” on April 25 at Lyric Opera Baltimore, where he will be joined by soprano Nicole Cabell in an orchestral gala celebration of French grand opera. June brings the U.S. release of Love Duets, Costello’s first recording as an exclusive Warner Classics artist, on which he sings opposite his wife and fellow Tucker Award-winner, soprano Ailyn Pérez. She also serves as his co-star in WNO’s L’elisir as well as in two productions of La traviata, at Covent Garden (May 6–20) and San Francisco Opera (July 5–13), and a Rigoletto in Hamburg (May 24–June 1).
Costello is one of today’s most compelling exponents of Donizetti’s lovelorn peasant; his Nemorino has been justly celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic. At Glyndebourne, Arts Desk declared: “Costello’s Nemorino was a revelation,” and The Times stated simply: “The best voice on stage belongs to Stephen Costello.” At Michigan Opera Theatre, his outstanding interpretation of the role inspired comparable raves. The Detroit News observed:
“It’s hard to know which to admire more, Costello’s smart, heart-tugging comic turn, something between Charlie Chaplin and a young Steve Martin, or his superb singing – and not just in Nemorino’s hugely famous lament ‘Una furtiva lagrima.’”
As Opera News recognized, in the Donizetti role, the tenor showed himself to be “a first-rate talent…clearly destined for a major career.”
For four of his six appearances in DC, Costello will star opposite the Adina of Ailyn Pérez, with whom, it was just announced, he will return in September for a special concert of duets to open Washington National Opera’s 2014-15 season. When they performed excerpts from L’elisir together at the star-studded 2013 Richard Tucker Gala, the New York Times admired the couple’s “perfect grasp of comic timing in acting and singing.” For the remaining performances, he will be joined by soprano Sarah Coburn, “a budding prima donna of exceptional promise” (New York Observer). Aspen Conducting Prize-winner Ward Stare leads Washington’s revival of the celebrated Stephen Lawless production, about which the Washington Post confesses: “It is difficult to imagine any spectator so hardhearted as to be able to resist the sustained jollity.”
When Costello featured an aria from Gounod’s Faust in a recent gala appearance at Avery Fisher Hall, his “bright, ringing top notes” impressed the New York Times. On April 25, the tenor demonstrates his feel for French repertoire in Lyric Opera Baltimore’s gala presentation of “Toujours L’Amour – A Celebration of French Grand Opera,” together with soprano Nicole Cabell, winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Their renditions of duets and arias from Faust and other masterpieces of the genre, including Roméo et Juliette, Manon, and Thaïs, will be supported by the Concert Artists of Baltimore, led by artistic director Edward Polochick.
Costello’s way with the great romantic partnerships of opera may also be heard soon on Love Duets, a collection of favorite romantic duets by composers from Puccini to Bernstein, drawn from L’elisir d’amore, La traviata, Rigoletto, Faust, Roméo et Juliette, Carmen, Manon, La bohème, and L’amico Fritz, as well as from Broadway’s Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Kismet, and West Side Story. Recorded in London with Ailyn Pérez and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Patrick Summers, the new album showcases what the New York Times calls Costello’s “palpable chemistry” with his wife; the Associated Press dubs the pair “America’s fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars,” while their vocal compatibility prompted the Los Angeles Times to declare: “Pérez and Costello possess full-bodied voices and enjoy letting them bloom with Italianate leisure.Love Duets marks the tenor’s first recording with Pérez, as he discusses with her – interspersed with footage from the recording sessions – in a YouTube video available here.
Costello reunites with his wife – “an ideal Violetta” (Observer, UK) – in their first scheduled performances together in Richard Eyre’s iconic staging of Verdi’s La traviata at London’s Royal Opera House. After the tenor’s previous appearance as Alfredo at Covent Garden, the Daily Express marveled:
“Stephen Costello brought real depth to the part. This young American has risen rapidly to claim a place among the world’s best tenors and recent performances show that he has the acting abilities to match his wonderfully smooth and powerful voice.”
Costello revisits his signature Alfredo portrayal at San Francisco Opera, in a revival of John Copley’s staging of the opera. Once again he will be joined by Pérez’s Violetta, with Quinn Kelsey, hailed as “the Verdi baritone we’ve been waiting for” (Chicago Sun-Times), as Germont.
For their third upcoming Verdi collaboration, Costello sings the Duke of Mantua to his wife’s Gilda at Hamburg State Opera, in a new Rigoletto treatment by Andreas Homoki, General Manager of the Zurich Opera. It was in the same opera that the tenor recently made his Houston Grand Opera debut, taking the local press by storm. Houston Culture Map called him “the sensation of the night, starting strong and finishing brilliantly,” and the Houston Chronicle praised his “swagger and ringing tone that exuded the duke’s licentious abandon.” As Theater Jones observed:
“The pivotal role of the Duke is sung by Steven Costello, a lyric tenor whose career trajectory is straight up. This is not assisted by spectacular leaps, but inexorability advanced by delivering one solid performance after another. … He is one of the best lyric tenors in the business.”
The tenor enjoyed similar success in his Washington National Opera debut last month, in the role he first inaugurated for the Dallas Opera’s world-premiere presentation of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick. As the Washington Post reflected, the production benefited from its “strong casting …, notably the tenor Stephen Costello as the protagonist.” The review continued:
“Costello is one of a small group of promising 30-something American tenors who have been marked as upcoming superstars.”
The Huffington Post remarked on his “youth (he’s 32), good looks, and shimmering talent,” while the Sybaritic Singer blog declared: “Stephen Costello as Greenhorn shines from top to bottom with his clarion voice. … Costello’s depth of character knowledge is impeccable.”
For those who missed his account of the role in DC, Costello’s Greenhorn/Ishmael may still be seen in the San Francisco Opera production that was televised in PBS’s Great Performances series and is now available on DVD. Naming the new release its January “DVD of the Month,” Gramophone magazine concluded:
Moby-Dick emerges as an opera that has everything. … Singing with more ease and richness of tone than anytime previously, Stephen Costello (Greenhorn) projects a sense of profound personal revelation.”
Further details of Stephen Costello’s upcoming engagements follow, and more information about the artist is available at the web sites listed below. High-resolution photos may be downloaded here.

Stephen Costello: upcoming engagements
March 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 & 29
Washington, DC
Washington National Opera
Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore (Nemorino)
April 25
Baltimore, MD
Lyric Opera Baltimore
Gala concert: “Toujours L’Amour: A Celebration of French Grand Opera”
May 6, 12, 17 & 20
London, UK
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
May 24, 29; June 1
Hamburg, Germany
Verdi: Rigoletto (Duke of Mantua)
July 5, 8, 11 & 13
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
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© 21C Media Group, March 2014





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