Costello, Stephen

2014-10-14 11:15:30

As the Associated Press observes, Stephen Costello is “a prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact.” The Philadelphia-born tenor quickly established a reputation as a “first-class talent” (Opera News) after coming to national attention in 2007, when, aged 26, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Two years later Costello won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, and he has since appeared at many of the world’s most important opera houses and music festivals, including London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Deutsche Oper Berlin; the Vienna State Opera; and the Salzburg Festival. In 2010 he created the role of Greenhorn (Ishmael) in the Dallas Opera’s celebrated world-premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick, prompting Opera magazine to hail him as “a tenor of ineffable sensitivity, with unfailing elegance in singing and a disconcerting ease in producing notes in head-voice.”

The 2014-15 season sees Costello return to San Francisco Opera to create the male lead in Francesca Zambello’s world premiere production of Two Women, a new opera by Marco Tutino, with Nicola Luisotti conducting. The tenor reprises his starring role in La traviata opposite Marina Rebeka’s Violetta at the Vienna State Opera and at the Met, where he also looks forward to joining Susan Graham for Susan Stroman’s new take on Lehar’s The Merry Widow under Fabio Luisi’s leadership. Other operatic highlights include his return to Houston Grand Opera to make his professional role debut as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and his portrayal of the title role in Roméo et Juliette at Austin Lyric Opera. Costello rejoins his wife and frequent co-star, Ailyn Pérez, with whom he has been dubbed “the Jay-Z and Beyoncé” of opera (The Times, UK), to sing live selections from their Warner Classics debut, Love Duets, at London’s Barbican Centre with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and at Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera and Opera Philadelphia, where they launch the company’s 40th anniversary season with a special gala performance.

Last season Costello made his Washington National Opera debut with a reprise of Greenhorn in Moby-Dick, while the San Francisco Opera’s presentation of the Heggie/Scheer opera, in which the tenor made his house debut, was televised nationwide on PBS’s Great Performances and subsequently released on DVD. Other highlights of 2013-14 included Costello’s Houston Grand Opera debut as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto, in which he proved himself “one of the best lyric tenors in the business” (Theater Jones); his return to Carnegie Hall to headline Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux in concert; his Japanese debut in Falstaff at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto; and his return to the Vienna State Opera in two favorite Donizetti roles: Percy in Anna Bolena and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore. L’elisir also served as the vehicle for his second Washington National Opera engagement, in which he was joined by Ailyn Pérez, opposite whom he assumed another signature role – Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata – in productions at London’s Royal Opera House and the San Francisco Opera. Costello reunited with his wife for gala concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall and Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, where they helped celebrate Richard Tucker’s centennial, and on their June CD release, Love Duets; recorded with Patrick Summers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the best-selling album was immediately hailed as “a knockout” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Costello made his professional debut in 2005, with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall. The following year brought his European debut, as Nemorino with Opéra National de Bordeaux, and his first appearances at the Dallas Opera and Fort Worth Opera, as Puccini’s Rodolfo. His subsequent notable debuts have included the Salzburg Festival, as Cassio in Otello; Covent Garden, as Carlo in Linda di Chamounix; Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Camille in The Merry Widow; San Diego Opera and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, both in the title role of Roméo et Juliette; the Glyndebourne Festival, as Nemorino; and the Vienna State Opera and Berlin State Opera, both as Rodolfo in La bohème. At San Diego Opera Costello made role debuts as the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier and in the title role of Faust. He opened San Diego Opera’s 2012-13 season in his role debut as Donizetti’s Tonio in La fille du régiment, and proved “an ideal Edgardo” (Stage-Door) in David Alden’s groundbreaking treatment of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Canadian Opera Company. At the Dallas Opera, he played the tenor lead in each of Donizetti’s three Tudor operas, before reprising Lord Percy opposite Anna Netrebko for his second opening-night performance at the Met, in the company’s premiere presentation of Anna Bolena. Costello and Netrebko appeared on PBS’s Charlie Rose to discuss the new production, which was transmitted worldwide in the Met’s Live in HD series. With Ailyn Pérez, Costello portrayed Rodolfo in La bohème for his Los Angeles Opera debut; Vanity Fair celebrated the production with a full-page photo of the husband-and-wife team, dubbing theirs “a match made in verismo heaven.” Besides their collaborations last season, the couple has also starred in memorable stagings of Roméo et Juliette with the Opera Company of Philadelphia; Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz with the Moscow Philharmonic; and La traviata with Cincinnati Opera.

Stephen Costello’s performances as Cassio in Verdi’s Otello, under Riccardo Muti’s leadership at the Salzburg Festival, were released on DVD in 2010 (Major/Naxos); his Covent Garden debut in Linda di Chamounix was released on CD in 2011 (Opera Rara); and his star turn in San Francisco Opera’s Moby-Dick was issued on DVD in 2013 (SFO) and was named an “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone magazine. Besides winning the 2009 Richard Tucker Award, Costello has previously received other grants from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, as well as taking First Prize in the 2006 George London Foundation Awards Competition, First Prize and Audience Prize in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition, and First Prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition.

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