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This Season Stephen Costello Sings First Lensky in Dallas; Makes Debuts with BSO and in Korea; Returns to Met with House Role Debut as Roméo

Fresh from a triumphant summer debut in Santa Fe Opera’s 60th-anniversary season, singing the title role in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Tucker Award-winning tenor Stephen Costello – “a prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact” (Associated Press) – launches his 2016-17 season at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper as Alfredo in La traviata. He returns to the States to make his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons as the Italian Singer in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, in an all-star concert performance featuring Renée Fleming and Susan Graham. At the Dallas Opera, where he has firmly established himself as a company favorite since his debut there a decade ago, he makes his role debut as Lensky in a season-opening production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, before reprising the role of Greenhorn/Ishmael in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick which he created in the company’s world premiere production. He returns to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise the role of the Duke in Michael Mayer’s electrifying Vegas setting of Verdi’s Rigoletto, as well as making his house title role debut in Bartlett Sher’s hit staging of Roméo et Juliette, opposite soprano Pretty Yende. Roméo is also the vehicle for his debut in Korea this season, with the Korea National Opera.

Costello’s Bayerische Staatsoper performance will be led by Israeli conductor Asher Fisch, with Romanian soprano Aurelia Florian as Violetta. Alfredo has long been a signature role for the tenor, who has performed it with companies including the Met, Royal Opera, and San Francisco Opera. His San Francisco performance in the summer of 2014 included a simulcast in the company’s Opera in the Ballpark series, which was attended by an audience of more than 25,000 people. In 2015 Costello stepped in with only days’ notice to sing the role with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, making an unexpected debut at that venue. The Los Angeles Times, under the headline “Substitutes shine in Traviata,” concluded: “Costello’s Alfredo was deeper than some, more sensitive than most and vocally convincing.”

Returning from Munich, Costello goes straight to Boston for his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which coincidentally takes place on his birthday, under the baton of Andris Nelsons.  With what the tenor calls “one of the starriest casts you can imagine,” led by Renée Fleming as the Marschallin and Susan Graham as Octavian, the performance is the third in a series of BSO presentations of Strauss operas in concert. Met favorite Erin Morley sings Sophie, and Vienna State Opera regular Franz Hawlata sings Baron Ochs.

When Costello makes his role debut as Lensky in the Dallas Opera’s season-opening classic period production of Eugene Onegin this year, it will mark his first time singing in Russian and his seventh mainstage performance with the company. His eighth follows two days later with Moby-Dick. Both operas will be led by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, a conductor Costello describes as “a fabulous musician” who was also in Santa Fe last summer, where the tenor was in the audience for Villaume’s “brilliant” rendition of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West. When Costello inaugurated the role of Greenhorn in the Dallas Opera’s 2010 world premiere production of Moby-Dick, 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.” As he says of the role:

“I created the role of Greenhorn/Ishmael for the company when it gave the world premiere of the work, and that experience was an incredibly rewarding one for me.  It’s also fun to return to a role that you created because you feel you have leeway to play with it and change it.”

He performed the same role at San Francisco Opera in 2012, in a production that was subsequently televised on PBS and issued on DVD. Gramophone recognized that Costello “project[ed] a sense of profound personal revelation.”

Costello’s Roméo et Juliette co-star at the Met will be South African soprano Pretty Yende, and once again the conductor will be Emmanuel Villaume. Despite this Roméo being a house role debut, both of Costello’s Met performances this season, like his Alfredo in Munich, will mark returns to familiar territory. Last summer in Santa Fe the press raved about his take on Shakespeare’s doomed lover, with the Santa Fe Reporter naming it the best performance by a male singer of the season. As the Wall Street Journal declared: “Stephen Costello was a stunning Roméo, his tenor beautifully poised and free, ardent without pushing.” Of the celebrated Barlett Sher production he will be singing in at the Met, which won acclaim for its vivid 18th-century setting and stunning costumes when it ran in Salzburg in 2008 and at La Scala three years later, Costello says:

“I did this production in Salzburg, and it’s simply one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen. I really connect with this music, and singing French music seems to come very naturally to me. I sang the role in Santa Fe this summer and it seems like audiences and critics really liked what they heard.”

Roméo will also serve as the vehicle for Costello’s debut this season with Korea National Opera in Seoul, where he gives two performances of the role in December. As for the Duke of Mantua, Costello had performed the role with four different companies, including in a 2014 Houston Grand Opera production, before joining Michael Mayer’s Vegas-themed Rigoletto at the Met last fall. After his Met performances last season he sang the role yet again, as the vehicle for a house role debut at Madrid’s Teatro Real. Reviewing the Met production, New York Classical Review found Costello to be “a fine Verdian tenor, with an ideal range and a rounded, colorful sound [He] sang the character, who must be attractive and repellent at the same time, beautifully.” Joining him in this season’s cast will again be Olga Peretyatko as Gilda, with Željko Lučić in the title role.

Click here to see Costello sing “La donna è mobile” in the Met’s Rigoletto.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.


Stephen Costello: upcoming engagements

Sep 18, 21, 24
Munich, Germany
Bayerische Staatsoper
Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)

Sep 29 & Oct 1
Boston, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra (debut)
Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Italian Singer)

Oct 28, 30; Nov 2, 5
Dallas, TX
Dallas Opera
Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (Lensky; role debut)

Nov 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 20
Dallas, TX
Dallas Opera
Heggie: Moby-Dick (Greenhorn/Ishmael)

Dec 8, 10
Seoul, Korea
Korea National Opera
Gounod: Roméo et Juliette (Roméo)

Jan 20, 26, 30; Feb 4
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Verdi: Rigoletto (Duke of Mantua)

March 3, 8, 11, 15, 18
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Gounod: Roméo et Juliette (Roméo)

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© 21C Media Group, Sep 2016

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