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St. Ann's Warehouse to Fully Reopen with Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo's ONLY AN OCTAVE APART

Bond and Costanzo subvert distinctions between high and low, juxtaposing their vocal pitches, performance styles, repertoires, and degrees of camp.

St. Ann's Warehouse to Fully Reopen with Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo's ONLY AN OCTAVE APART

St. Ann's Warehouse will make a momentous return to full-capacity performances with Justin Vivian Bond and Anthony Roth Costanzo's Only an Octave Apart, a theatrical concert coalescing wildly divergent genres and voices, directed by Zack Winokur (The Black Clown) and music-directed by Thomas Bartlett (collaborator with Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, St. Vincent, Florence and the Machine) for ten performances, September 21-October 3.

In Only an Octave Apart, the two legendary performers intermingle their unique vocal gifts around iconic works ranging from from Purcell's 17th century aria "Dido's Lament" to Dido's early 2000s radio hit "White Flag." Bond and Costanzo subvert distinctions between high and low, juxtaposing their vocal pitches, performance styles, repertoires, and degrees of camp-not to mention their physical heights. These concerts, created with a dream team of collaborators including set designer Carlos Soto (Solange, Robert Wilson, Lucinda Childs), lighting designer John Torres (Taylor Mac, Robert Wilson, Hamlet directed by Yaël Farber), and sound designer David Schnirman (Lou Reed, David Byrne, Rufus Wainwright), nod to St. Ann's roots at the intersection of music and theater and preview a future Decca Records US studio album produced by Bartlett.

Explains Costanzo, "Opera may now be perceived as normative and elitist, but it has a wild lineage as both an interdisciplinary and popular, zeitgeist-driving form-not to mention one whose popularity was rooted in the sex-symbol status of castrated men. What I have always tried to do, and what I think this show can excel at, is to drop some breadcrumbs for people who are a gateway audience. If I had to boil my career down, the common thread for me is asking how to create points of access-and for me the breadth of the songs here allows a multiplicity of points of access. When you hear them, they can be a kind of reflection of your identity and the multitudes it includes."

Says Bond, "Cabaret is really intimate and spontaneous and dangerous because you don't know what's going to happen, whereas opera at its best is very calculated. There are so many people onstage that every piece of the puzzle has to fit perfectly. So in our work together, Anthony and I get to bring elements of both of those things so it loosens up the opera part a bit and recontextualizes it and, for me, it gets me into a more formalized, practiced way of performing. I think it brings out the best, and something new, in both of us."

Bond and Costanzo have been each other's "friends and groupies" since they were introduced a decade ago when Costanzo caught a performance by Bond at Joe's Pub-and, soon after, performed as a guest in Bond's next appearance there. They have long wanted to join their distinct styles in a Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall/Sills and Burnett at the Met-inspired performance. During the pandemic, across two development workshops at the Fisher Center at Bard, they researched echoes of classical music in pop, selecting a repertoire of songs that can elevate, deliciously debase, and thematically elucidate one another. Teaming with Thomas Bartlett, they brought their singular musical alchemy into the soon-to-be-released album, with Nico Muhly contributing arrangements. St. Ann's Warehouse, as Costanzo describes, is "the perfect place" to formally introduce this work to audiences, "because there are very few places with more history and panache when it comes to presenting great concerts with malleability and theatricality than St. Ann's."

Zack Winokur first encountered Justin Vivian Bond's work and met them at 15, when someone who knew Bond told Winokur he needed to see the cabaret artist perform and gave him Bond's number on a napkin. Winokur recalls, "I called Viv and was like, 'I'm a tiny child gay person and someone said you are everything, and I can't afford a ticket. Do you have a ticket?' And I went with a friend to the show and was overwhelmed." Winokur, co-founder and Artistic Director of The American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), has frequently collaborated with Costanzo, himself a founding member of the adventurous, discipline-crossing company. Working with Bond for the first time in this collaboration with Costanzo, Winokur says of the two performers, "One of the things that's curious about this show is when you think about these two people, you love them both, but it's sort of hard to imagine what they might sound like or perform like together-and it turns out it's a real 1 + 1 = 3 moment. They're both their own sublime entities, but they're so complementary in being extremely sophisticated storytellers with their voices in completely different ways, both icons doing deeply queer, subversive work outside the mainstream of their respective genres. I have never cried or laughed as much or as hard in any rehearsal process in my life."

Bond adds, "Every time we got together to work during the pandemic year felt like an affirmation of our belief in the possibility of the future. It was really positive, and while the record has plenty of moments that make you feel, overall it has a sense of joy and optimism, because we felt so happy when we were making it. I was enjoying every minute, and found comfort even in the emotional things. It's a life-affirming project to me."

Thomas Bartlett says, "My first instinct in approaching this project was to find a musical middle ground where these two extraordinary voices could live together. But when we started working, I found it more exciting to reach for the extremes, to find sounds that seemed divergent to the point of irreconcilability, and then...throw them together and watch the fireworks! What emerged is this glorious, crazed fever-dream that seems to come from a deeply festive alternate universe."

St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman says, "What excited me immediately was the wraparound of these two rare and extraordinary vocal lines embodied by Viv and Anthony, two bountiful and deeply generous performers, under the musical direction of the gifted Thomas Bartlett. Add Zack Winokur as director and the divine Carlos Soto, John Torres, and David Schnirman as designers, and St. Ann's Warehouse reawakens to the sounds of joy and music. I must be dreaming."

Tickets

Tickets to attend Only an Octave Apart start at $35 and are on sale to St. Ann's Warehouse Members today. As the Official Card of St. Ann's Warehouse, American Express® Card Members have access to exclusive pre-sale tickets beginning Tuesday, June 22. Tickets for the general public are available beginning Tuesday, June 29. All tickets can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org or 718.254.8779. To reach full capacity safely, proof of vaccination will be required of all audience members.

St. Ann's Warehouse is located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at 45 Water Street|DUMBO|Brooklyn, NY 11201.



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