Press Room

Stephen Costello returns to Vienna State Opera for “L’elisir”, Nov 8–18

Following a highly successful run of performances in the Metropolitan Opera’s season-opening production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Stephen Costello returns to the Vienna State Opera for a second consecutive season, singing the role of Nemorino in another (and far more light-hearted) Donizetti opera, L’elisir d’amore. The four performances take place November 8–18. Costello made his company debut last season with the Vienna State Opera when, in the opening weekend, he substituted for an ailing Rolando Villazón as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème. This fall, Costello will also give concert performances as Leicester in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda with the Munich Opera Orchestra (Dec 2 & 5), before heading to London for his company role debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Jan 2–20).
As he prepares for another production in Vienna, Costello looks forward to returning to a role that he is especially fond of doing: “Nemorino is the first role I ever sang, and it’s incredibly enjoyable to do. It gives you not only the chance to show off your comic acting, but also serious moments to open up your soul and let it pour out to the audience.”
Costello made his Glyndebourne Festival debut this past June with the role of Nemorino. Reviewing the opening-night performance, London’s Guardian described Costello’s “pliant tenor” as possessing “velvety depths,” while The Times praised his “rich, easy timbre” and concluded, “The best voice on stage belongs to Stephen Costello.” His Nemorino at Michigan Opera Theatre in March 2009 drew high praise, including Opera News’s assertion that the tenor is “a first-class talent…clearly destined for a major career.” Reviewing the same production, the Detroit News singled out Costello’s “endearing, effortlessly comedic appearance,” observing, “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.’”
Costello’s first performance as Lord Percy at the Metropolitan Opera took place on the opening night of the company’s new season, just days before his 30th birthday. With Anna Netrebko in the title role, the Met’s new production of Anna Bolena marked the company debut of Donizetti’s breakthrough opera. Writing for the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini called Costello “gifted and game” and praised him for his “impetuous and ardent singing.” Mike Silverman reviewed for the Associated Press and noted, “As the hapless Percy, Anna’s former lover – and possibly husband – tenor Stephen Costello sang with fervent lyricism and coped extremely well with the many daunting high notes in the role.”

In a feature story preceding the opening, the Wall Street Journal described Costello as “a Philadelphia kid who sings like he’s from Milan,” noting: “Stephen Costello has the kind of voice that sets the audience – even at a dress rehearsal – atwitter.” Buzz about the production and performances at the Met prompted Charlie Rose to extend an invitation for an interview to Costello, Netrebko, and the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb; their conversation aired on Monday, October 10, and is available here

In the brief Q & A that follows, Costello discusses his upcoming performances and recent adventures in New York City.
A Conversation with Stephen Costello
Q: Are you excited to be returning to Vienna?
SC: Absolutely! I’m doing L’elisir with Marco Armiliato, who conducted the Bolena we just finished at the Metropolitan Opera. And of course I’m looking forward to the bratwurst and the Mozartkugel, not to mention the Viennese casino across the street from the hotel!
Q: Some people consider Nemorino a somewhat two-dimensional character, but you’ve said you have a special affection for him.
SC: I think Nemorino is an underappreciated character. He’s not a stupid country bumpkin. He’s very smart, and he knows what’s going on and is aware of the situation. In the end, he gets what he wanted. Not to mention that he’s got a big heart!   
Q: His big aria, ‘Una furtiva lagrima,’ is certainly a popular one. Are there other great moments in the work that you especially look forward to?
SC: The duet “Venti scudi” with the baritone, Belcore, is a fantastic duet – it has beautiful legato and ends on a nice high C. It’s great! And what a beautiful theater – a wonderful acoustic and such a nice company to work for. My friend Adam Plachetka, a terrific, young baritone, is doing Doctor Dulcamara.
Q: Soon after, you’re returning to Covent Garden for your role debut as Alfredo in La traviata.
SC: That’s right – I’m doing five performances in London that include two with Anna Netrebko as Violetta. She’s such a great actress and brings a lot of life to that opera. Doing a production with her really helps you with your own character development; her high standard of performance really helps you bring more to the table. It was fun to be on Charlie Rose with her, too!
Q: Were you nervous about going on such a high-profile TV program?
SC: Absolutely. Since [Charlie Rose] interviews so many important political figures, you think he’s going to give you a real grilling. But it was actually a lot of fun, like sitting around the table and talking to friends.
Q: What were some of the other fun and memorable experiences you’ll take away from your recent time in NYC?
SC: It was very special being at the 9/11 concert with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert. Sharing an elevator a few weeks later with Andy Dufresne, aka Tim Robbins, was pretty awesome, as The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite films. The fall tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern was terrific, as was the burger at Daniel Boulud’s DB. Shopping on Fifth Avenue is always amazing. And I really enjoyed taking a tour of Sirius/XM. I had a great time at the 30th birthday party that 21C threw for me. Going to the observation deck of the Empire State Building for the first time was incredible, though I was bummed that I didn’t see The Book of Mormon or the Statue of Liberty.
Q: What do you do to chill out and “come down” after a big show?
SC: A lot of PlayStation – the new Batman: Arkham City is awesome. Honestly, I just try to take it easy and relax. Percy was a particularly demanding sing – it’s a very hard role – so the days after my performances really required some serious resting.
Q: While you were in NYC you also gave a recital with your wife, soprano Ailyn Pérez, for the George London Foundation. Will you be doing more recitals – alone and with your wife – in the foreseeable future?
SC: I’m working on music and learning more recital music to build up a really good recital program before I do more of them. I love doing them, but it will take some time to put together something that’s very enjoyable and has a nice flow to it. It will also be nice to do a few performances and not just a single evening so that I can test it out and develop the material. 
Stephen Costello: upcoming engagements
Nov 8
Vienna, Austria
Vienna State Opera
Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore (Nemorino)
Additional performances: Nov 11, 15, & 18
Dec 2 & 5
Munich, Germany
Munich Gasteig Hal
Munich Opera Orchestra / Massimillano Murrali
Concert performances of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (Leicester)
Jan 2, 2012
London, England
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
Additional performances: Jan 6, 9, 17, & 20
Feb 1 & 4
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Donizetti: Anna Bolena (Percy)
March 17
Seville, Spain
Teatro de la Maestranza
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (Edgardo)
Additional performances: March 20, 23, 27, & 30
May 12
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Opera
Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
Additional performances: May 20, 23, 26, & 31; June 2
June 25
Moscow, Russia
Moscow State Philharmonic Society
Mascagni: L’amico Fritz (Fritz)
July 25, 27, & 29
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)
Follow Stephen Costello on Facebook
Follow Stephen Costello on Twitter



Return to Press Room