Stephen Costello Headlines ROBERTO DEVEREUX at Carnegie Hall Tonight
It was in a supporting role at Carnegie Hall with Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York that Stephen Costello first launched his professional career. Now the Tucker Award-winning tenor makes a hero's return, rejoining the same forces at the storied New York venue to headline a concert performance of Donizetti's Roberto Devereux tonight, June 5.
He then reunites with his wife, soprano Ailyn Pérez, to co-star in La traviata at San Francisco Opera (July 5-13) and sing romantic duets "From Puccini to Broadway" at Quebec's Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur (Aug 1), as heard on their Warner Classics label debut, Love Duets; due for release on June 3, the album has already been hailed as "a knockout" by the Philadelphia Inquirer. To conclude the summer, the tenor makes his Japanese and role debuts as Fenton in Falstaff at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto (Aug 20-26).
In the title role of Roberto Devereux at Carnegie Hall
Costello gave his first appearances in the title role of Roberto Devereux, the final installment of Donizetti's Tudor trilogy, at the Dallas Opera, prompting Opera Warhorses to declare: "His was a vocally brilliant, smoldering performance." Opera News proclaimed him the "star of the performance," and continued:
"Costello...looked, acted and sang the demanding part of the headstrong Devereux with finesse. His golden voice encompassed power and sweetness, passion and control, along with an abundance of squillo - that strong, ringing timbre now seemingly so rare in tenors. Costello produced burnished sounds that were free of strain."
Now the tenor revisits this celebrated portrayal in a concert performance at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York and its founder/artistic director, Eve Queler, whose numerous honors include the NEA's award for Lifetime Achievement in Opera.
Costello recalls: "I started my career with Eve Queler at Carnegie Hall singing the fisherman in William Tell - I think it was 2005 - and that's the only time thus far that I've sung at Carnegie Hall. Now I'm returning there with her to sing the leading role in an opera, so this is very exciting for me. Eve is a great person and a great musician. She's very supportive, both in rehearsal and performance, and I'm very happy to be working with her again."
Singing opposite the tenor's Earl of Essex as Elisabetta, Queen of England, will be Italian soprano Mariella Devia, long regarded one of Italy's greatest bel canto specialists (June 5).
With Ailyn Pérez: at San Francisco Opera, on new Love Duets album, and in concert
Heralded as "America's fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars" (Associated Press), Costello and his wife, fellow Tucker Award-winner Ailyn Pérez, regularly perform together, showcasing what the New York Times describes as "palpable chemistry." When they headlined La traviata at Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Inquirer observed that "there could not have been a more convincing pair of lovers. ... The chemistry between Pérez and Costello was evident from their first meeting." As for the tenor's own performance, the review continued:
"Costello possesses one of the most exciting tenors to be heard on Music Hall's stage. He projected a rich Italianate timbre and effortless high notes, yet he also phrased with sensitivity. His acting was seamless from his love duets to the jealous outburst he delivered."
After appearing this month as Alfredo and Violetta at London's Royal Opera House (May 6 - 20), which will be streamed live for free around the world as part of BP Big Screens 2014, representing the company's first live stream of a complete opera (May 20), Costello and Pérez look forward to reprising their signature portrayals of Verdi's tragic leads at San Francisco Opera in a revival of John Copley's production, with Quinn Kelsey as Germont and Nicola Luisotti (June 17 & 20) and Giuseppe Finzi (July 5-13) sharing conducting duties. The July 5 performance will be shown in a live simulcast at San Francisco's AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, where previous opera simulcasts have drawn audiences of more than 165,000.
Costello made his San Francisco Opera debut in Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, projecting "a sense of profound personal revelation" (Gramophone magazine) as Greenhorn, the role he himself first created, in a production that has since been televised and released on DVD. He returns to the company next spring to sing the tenor lead in another new opera - Marco Tutinof's La Ciociara ("Two Women") - again with Music Director Luisotti on the podium.
La traviata is one of the operas excerpted on the forthcoming release Love Duets, Costello's first recording with his wife, alongside favorite romantic duets from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Verdi's Rigoletto, Puccini's La bohème, Gounod's Faust, Massenet's Manon, Mascagni's L'amico Fritz, and the Broadway shows Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Kismet, and West Side Story.
The tenor confesses, "It's thrilling, of course, to be having our Warner Classics debut album come out this spring, but it's also terrifying. On a recording, your performance is etched in stone, and that's a powerful thing to realize."
As to repertoire, he explains: "We're doing material we've sung together in public, as well as music we've not yet done on stage. We've never done an entire production of West Side Story in public, or Kismet or Guys and Dolls, and we've never done Manon together. We sing wonderful music from operas on this album, but we're also thrilled to include so much musical theater, which we feel so passionately about. Here in America the musical theater tradition is an essential part of our identity. We've had Rodgers and Hart, and Leonard Bernstein, and so many other brilliant creators. This is our culture and it's really great to sing this amazing music."
Released in the UK this month, and slotted for U.S. release on June 3, the album is already generating substantial buzz. Pronounced "pretty well perfect" by Sinfini Music, London's Sunday Times named Love Duets its "album of the week," calling Costello and Pérez "two of the brightest upcoming stars":