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Stephen Costello’s 2014-15: SFO world premiere, Met role debuts & more

A prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact” (Associated Press), Stephen Costello looks forward to a number of important firsts in 2014-15. Besides creating the role of Michele in San Francisco Opera’s world premiere production of Two Women, the Tucker Award-winning tenor returns to the Metropolitan Opera for a pair of house role debuts, reprising his star turn as Alfredo – also seen this season at the Vienna State Opera – in La traviata, and singing Camille in Susan Stroman’s new staging of The Merry Widow. He makes his professional role debut as Ferrando in Così fan tutte at Houston Grand Opera, and a house debut at Austin Lyric Opera, in the title role of a new Roméo et Juliette

Creating new role in world premiere production of Two Women at San Francisco Opera

Costello also collaborated with Jake Heggie on his opera Moby-Dick, creating the role of Ishmael/Greenhorn in the Dallas Opera’s world premiere production. Opera magazine hailed him as “a tenor of ineffable sensitivity, with unfailing elegance in singing and a disconcerting ease in producing notes in head-voice,” and when Costello reprised the role at San Francisco Opera, in a production that was subsequently televised and issued on DVD, Gramophone magazine recognized that he “project[ed] a sense of profound personal revelation.”

Now the tenor returns to San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Italian composer Marco Tutino’s Two Women, in which he will create the role of Michele. A San Francisco Opera co-commission, the work is based on Alberto Moravia’s novel La Ciociara, which was also adapted into a classic movie starring Sophia Loren and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Joining Costello are soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci and baritone Mark Delavan, with San Francisco Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducting and direction by Francesca Zambello (June 13–30). Costello explains,

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Two Women. It’s a great piece of romantic music and everything you could hope for from an Italian opera. I’m also very excited to work with Zambello for the first time, and am honored to have the chance to do a world premiere with Luisotti.”

Back at the Met for house role debuts in La traviata and The Merry Widow

The romantic heroes of Verdi and Donizetti are Costello’s calling card, and for his upcoming return to the Metropolitan Opera, he makes his house role debut with his signature portrayal of Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata. Soprano Marina Rebeka stars as Violetta, with Ludovic Tézier as Germont and Marco Armiliato on the podium, in Willy Decker’s celebrated production (Dec 11–27). It was Costello’s depiction of Alfredo at Covent Garden that prompted the Daily Express to marvel:

“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 and Rebeka also star as Verdi’s doomed lovers at the Vienna State Opera, where Dmitri Hvorostovsky plays Germont in a staging by Dan Ettinger (March 12–21).

For his second Met role debut of the season, Costello revisits Camille, previously the vehicle for his first appearances at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, in a new treatment of The Merry Widow from Broadway sensation Susan Stroman. Star mezzo Susan Graham sings Lehár’s title role, with Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leading from the pit (April 24–May 7). Costello says:

“I’m really looking forward to working Susan Graham – she is such a great artist, and I very much admire the way she can take any heavy situation and make it lighter. She creates an incredible atmosphere in any room that she is in!”

Headlining Roméo et Juliette in Austin Lyric Opera debut

For his company debut at the Austin Lyric Opera, the tenor reprises another of his most celebrated portrayals, singing the title role in a new production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette by Douglas Scholz-Carlson, with Joyce El-Khoury as Juliette, Peter Volpe as Friar Laurence, and Richard Buckley conducting (Jan 24–Feb 1). His account of Gounod’s Roméo at the San Diego Opera scored rave reviews, including this one from San Diego Arts:

“To describe the tall, broad-shouldered Costello as dashing is like calling Bill Gates well-off. And when Costello holds his gorgeous high notes just a few beats longer without the slightest sense of strain – now that is why folks come to the opera! His eager, athletic singing in the balcony scene – not to mention his erotic edge in the nuptial duet rolling about Juliet’s curtained four-poster – combined with his idiomatic command of the French operatic style make me doubt there is another tenor singing today better suited to this role.”

Professional debut in Mozart at Houston Grand Opera

For his first return engagement at Houston Grand Opera, Costello takes time out from his signature Romantic fare to make his professional role debut as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The performances are, in fact, his first in any Mozart opera. Under the leadership of Houston’s Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers, he joins a first-rate ensemble cast that includes Jacques Imbrailo as Guglielmo, Rachel Willis-Sorensen as Fiordiligi, and Melody Moore as Dorabella, in a revival of Harry Silverstein’s staging. The tenor describes himself as “really looking forward to going back to Houston in my first Mozart role,” and adds: “It was a real privilege to work with Patrick Summers on Love Duets, and I can’t wait to collaborate with him again.” It was last season that Costello made his Houston Grand Opera debut as the Duke in Rigoletto; the Houston Culture Map named him “the sensation of the night,” while Theater Jones reported:

“Costello [is] a lyric tenor whose career trajectory is straight up. This is not assisted by spectacular leaps, but by inexorability advanced by delivering one solid performance after another. … He is one of the best lyric tenors in the business.”

 “Love Duets” with Ailyn Pérez, on U.S. tour and in London

Costello opens the season in company with his wife and fellow Tucker Award-winner, soprano Ailyn Pérez : The Times of London has christened them “opera’s It couple.” Together they give a duo recital tour of favorites from their album Love Duets, a collection of romantic selections by composers from Puccini to Bernstein, recorded for Warner Classics with Patrick Summers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Their U.S. tour takes them to the San Diego Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, and Opera Philadelphia, where they launch the company’s 40th Anniversary Season with a special gala performance in the city where they first fell in love (Sep 5–14). Costello also reunites with Pérez and the BBC Symphony for an orchestral program of “Love Duets” at London’s Barbican Hall (Jan 5). The album spent two weeks at number four on the U.S. Traditional Classical Chart, debuted at number three on the UK Classical Chart, and received sensational reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Gramophone called it “irresistible”; Opera News pronounced it “sublime”; Vanity Fair admired “their steamy chemistry”; and the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed it, quite simply, “a knockout.”

Further details of Stephen Costello’s upcoming engagements follow, and more information is available at the web sites listed below.



Stephen Costello: 2014-15 engagements


Sep 5

San Diego, CA

San Diego Opera

Benefit concert: “Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello in Recital”

With Danielle Orlando, piano


Sep 10

Washington, DC

Washington National Opera

Duo recital: “An Evening with Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez”

With Danielle Orlando, piano


Sep 12

Philadelphia, PA

Opera Philadelphia

Duo appearance: “40th Anniversary Gala Starring Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello”

With Danielle Orlando, piano


Sep 14

Dallas, TX

Dallas Opera

Duo recital: “Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello at the Eisemann”

With Danielle Orlando, piano


Oct 31; Nov 2, 8, 13, 15

Houston, TX

Houston Grand Opera

Mozart: Così fan tutte (Ferrando; role debut)


Dec 11, 16, 19, 22, 27

New York, NY

Metropolitan Opera

Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)


Jan 5

London, England

Barbican Hall

“Love Duets” with Ailyn Pérez

BBC Symphony Orchestra


Jan 24, 29; Feb 1

Austin, TX

Austin Lyric Opera

Gounod: Roméo et Juliette (Roméo)


March 12, 15, 18, 21

Vienna, Austria

Vienna State Opera

Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)


April 24, 27, 30; May 7

New York, NY

Metropolitan Opera

Lehár: The Merry Widow (Camille)


June 13, 19, 23, 28, 30

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Opera

Marco Tutino: Two Women (“La Ciociara”) (Michele) (world premiere)

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© 21C Media Group, September 2014


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