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This Week, Stephen Costello Returns to Dallas Opera for Double-Header, Singing First Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Reprising Greenhorn/Ishmael – Role He Created – in Heggie’s Moby-Dick

Since making his debut at the Dallas Opera ten years ago, Tucker Award-winning tenor Stephen Costello has firmly established himself as a house favorite. Fresh from launching the Bavarian State Opera’s season in La traviata and making his triumphant Boston Symphony debut in a star-studded Rosenkavalier, this week he returns to Dallas for a pair of back-to-back productions. After making his role debut as Lensky in the company’s season-opening staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Oct 28–Nov 5), he revisits Greenhorn/Ishmael in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick (Nov 4–20), reprising the role he originally created for the company’s world premiere presentation, when 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.”

It was on the Dallas stage that many of Costello’s key role debuts took place, including the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto and, most recently, the Chevalier des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon, in which, “moving from strength to vocal strength,” his performance was “nothing short of astonishing” (Opera News). The latest in this succession of role debuts is the ill-fated poet, Lensky, in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which marks the tenor’s first role in Russian. As he told Arts & Culture Texas,

“When I was in school, I had a Russian coach, but I only did two pieces, an aria and a duet. I didn’t get to sing an entire role. So this is like starting from the beginning. It’s a beautiful language to sing in. I like the vowels and the way it feels when you’re singing it. It feels good in your mouth. Comfortable.”

In Jean-Claude Auvray’s classic, period production, Costello gives four performances opposite the Olga of Estonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel, with baritone Andrei Bondarenko in the title role and Music Director Emmanuel Villaume leading from the pit.

The night before the final Eugene Onegin performance, again under the baton of Villaume, Costello takes the Dallas stage for Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick. Reprising the role he inaugurated back in 2010, when the opera first “opened in a blaze of glory” (New York Times), he rejoins fellow original cast member Morgan Smith as Starbuck, now with Wagnerian heavyweight Jay Hunter Morris as Ahab, for six appearances in Leonard Foglia’s celebrated staging. He recalls:

“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.”

Costello also revisited his portrayal at San Francisco Opera in 2012, in a production that was subsequently televised on PBS and issued on DVD. Gramophone magazine admired the “sense of profound personal revelation” he projected in that performance.

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This Dallas double-header follows the tenor’s recent debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, along with Renée Fleming and Susan Graham in an all-star concert performance of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. As the Boston Classical Review reported: “The standout was Stephen Costello as the Italian singer, who sang with ringing brilliance”; small wonder, then, that the Boston Globe anticipates that “Costello’s buttery Italian Singer will likely be in demand for future productions.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Stephen Costello: double header at the Dallas Opera

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

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

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© 21C Media Group, October 2016

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