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Stephen Costello Returns to Metropolitan Opera for La traviata and Rigoletto This Spring
Source: 21C Media Group
07/03/2019

Tucker Award-winner Stephen Costello – “the best American operatic tenor the world has right now” (Toronto Star) – returns to the Metropolitan Opera for back-to-back Verdi productions this spring. After revisiting his signature portrayal of Alfredo in a new treatment of La traviata by Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer (April 5-27), the tenor reprises his star turn as the Duke of Mantua in the same director’s hit take on Rigoletto(May 10).
 
Verdi’s Alfredo has already taken Costello to the Met, originally in Willy Decker’s staging, as well as to the Bavarian State Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where his interpretation of the role 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.”
After giving Met audiences a preview of his performance in Mayer’s new staging last December, when he stepped in opposite Diana Damrau for an indisposed Juan Diego Flórez, Costello returns to the New York house to make his scheduled production debut this April. Under the leadership of Nicola Luisotti, he will be joined by baritone Artur RuciƄski and tenor Plácido Domingo, taking turns singing his father, Giorgio Germont, with Anita Hartig in the title role. The Romanian soprano previously co-starred with Costello in La bohème at Spain’s Teatro Real Madrid and in a special concert performance of Faust in Moscow.
 
Costello is particularly excited about working with Mayer again. He explains:
“I think Michael Meyer is a complete genius and everything he does is just extraordinary. He really helps you find the character and makes you comfortable on stage as an actor, and he also gives you the freedom to explore yourself and make choices. His Traviata takes place over the different seasons, and he shows that, in the lighting and the colors and the set. It’s a beautiful production – it’s just absolutely gorgeous. And I actually get to do the production with Plácido Domingo for a few performances! I know Plácido, but I’ve never shared a stage with him, and he’s such a living legend that I’m sure I can learn a lot from him. Every time you do a role, you get to find more colors and different aspects in it. It evolves as you get older, so I’m looking forward to singing Alfredo again.”
Best known for his Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning work on Broadway, Mayer made his Met debut with a groundbreaking Vegas setting of Rigoletto that recast Verdi’s Duke as a Sinatra figure. This was the vehicle for Costello’s house debut in the role, when the New York Times praised his “bright tenor that … was perfectly suited to [the] character,” and the New York Classical Review – calling the staging “one of the great successes of the Peter Gelb era” – observed:
“The cast in this year’s production adds to Mayer’s concept, especially tenor Stephen Costello as the Duke. Costello is 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.”
Following Bryan Hymel’s withdrawal from the production’s upcoming revival, Costello looks forward to reprising his portrayal of the Duke for the final performance of the run, with Nadine Sierra as Gilda, George Gagnidze in the title role, and Nicola Luisotti on the podium.
 
As has just been announced, the tenor also features in the Met’s 2019-20 season, which sees him reunite with Diana Damrau to sing Leicester in Sir David McVicar’s staging of Maria Stuarda (April & May 2020). As a new-minted New Yorker, these hometown engagements suit Costello; for a glimpse of the former Philly boy’s life at home with his wife, Metropolitan Opera violinist Yoon Kwon, and their pets, Pebbles and Chloe, see below.
The tenor’s upcoming appearances follow the release of A Te, O Cara, the bel canto aria collection that marked his solo album debut. Recorded for Delos with Grammy-nominated conductor Constantine Orbelian leading Lithuania’s Kaunas City Symphony, this was named the “Best Vocal Recital Disc of 2018” by Voix des Arts. The review continued:
“This disc [is] one to be celebrated as an important artist’s homage to the art that uplifts him. … A Te, O Cara is a disc in which smiles and tears meld with staggering verisimilitude. This is one of the glorious capabilities of music, and Stephen Costello brandishes it on this disc and on stage with vocal gold and artistic generosity.”
Gramophone magazine agreed:
Costello sounds as vocally fresh as a newcomer but with a greater understanding of text and style that puts him on new artistic ground. … What handily puts him across the finish line is the overall characterisation and larger sense of musical intent behind the vocal athleticism. And Costello’s elastic moulding of the texts and phrases … reflects his deepening artistry.”
As Theater Jones affirmed, “Like other great vocalists, [Costello] has the ability to take the familiar and put his stamp on it. … [An] auspicious and touching debut album.”
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