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Stephen Costello proves “an ideal Edgardo” in Toronto “Lucia” (till May 24)

The verdict is already in for Stephen Costello’s first performances in David Alden’s groundbreaking staging of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Canadian Opera Company, and critics are unanimous: the Richard Tucker Award winner has just scored another hit. “Costello was strong, earnest and vocally dazzling as lover Edgardo,” observed Musical Toronto. The Globe and Mail admired his “sweet, focused sound,” and the Star pronounced his performance “masterful.” As Stage-Door discovered, the tenor has proved himself “an ideal Edgardo, … dashing in appearance” and blessed with “a glorious Italianate voice that throbs with passion.” Continuing until May 24, the production, which also boasts Anna Christy’s “pitch-perfect Lucia” (MooneyOnTheatre), prompted Bachtrack to marvel, “If there is such a thing as an opera that is a real deal, this is it.” Meanwhile Philadelphia native Costello will be back on U.S. turf this summer, giving two performances in the Metropolitan Opera’s free, open-air Summer Recital Series in New York on July 16 and 19.
In the wrong hands, Donizetti’s hero can struggle to escape Lucia’s shadow. Yet, as the Globe and Mail noted:
“Christy’s Lucia was matched by the fine tenor of Stephen Costello as Edgardo, Lucia’s true love. With power to burn, and a sweet, focused sound, Costello made the most of his final death scene, as he did with all his appearances.”
MooneyOnTheatre agreed:
“Christy’s voice pairs beautifully in duets with Stephen Costello’s bright, youthful tenor. As Lucia’s lover, Edgardo, Costello brings a fiery passion to the character and especially shines in Edgardo’s heartbreaking aria in Act III.”
The tenor’s fervor made a similar impression on Bachtrack:
“Costello brings fine energy, excellent timbre and a flexible bel canto voice capable of great agility to his role as Edgardo, Lucia’s ardent, faithful-but-fickle Highlander lover. His final aria (before his ostensible suicide) flared with passion.
Barczablog explained succinctly why such success is no mean feat:
I’ve never – until now – seen an Edgardo that I really liked. He’s a troubling character, sailing off into the sunset early on, and then suddenly appearing self-righteously five minutes too late, romantic in the ineffectual way that’s classic Walter Scott. … Costello deserves special credit, making such a likable and charismatic Edgardo.
Evidently, what sets Costello’s portrayal apart is the marriage of diverse talents he brings to the role. For Stage-Door,
Costello is an ideal Edgardo. He is dashing in appearance, rather like Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, and has a glorious Italianate voice that throbs with passion. His final contrasting arias are sung with such beauty and vitality that for once the conclusion focusing on Edgardo does not feel like an anticlimax after Lucia’s mad scene.”
As the Toronto Star agreed, his Edgardo offers “the whole package”:
“Stephen Costello’s Edgardo is another masterful performance, eschewing the standard romantic tenor for something rugged and more convincing. A bit of Glaswegian steampunk in his costume and a voice that rang out time and time again with purity and passion made for an unbeatable combination.”
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Now in its fifth season, the Metropolitan Opera’s free Summer Recital Series presents recitals of operatic arias and duets, together with selections from the American Songbook, in parks in all five boroughs of New York. When the series returns this summer, Costello will be featured in two of the upcoming concerts. On Tuesday, July 16, he will help launch the series at Central Park SummerStage, with soprano Erin Morley, described by the Wall Street Journal as “spectacular”; mezzo Isabel Leonard, who recently followed in Costello’s footsteps when she won the 2013 Richard Tucker Award; and pianist Bradley Moore, who regularly collaborates with the likes of Renée Fleming, Plácido Domingo, and Yo-Yo Ma. Then on Friday, July 19, the four artists reunite for a second free outdoor performance at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Further details of Stephen Costello’s upcoming engagements follow, and more information about the artist is available at the web sites listed below.
Stephen Costello: upcoming engagements
May 9, 12, 15, 18, & 24
Toronto, Canada
Canadian Opera Company
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (Edgardo)
July 16
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series
Central Park SummerStage
(with Erin Morley, soprano; Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Bradley Moore, piano)
July 19
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1
(with Erin Morley, soprano; Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Bradley Moore, piano)
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© 21C Media Group, May 2

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