With his youthful good looks and world-class musical talent, it was easy to see that there was no way for him to go but up, up, up! Not yet a household word, but in just six years, the young American tenor Stephen Costello has been catapulted to the upper planes of operatic firmament. Name any of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and you can be sure he’s “been there, done that!” Done what singers many years his senior usually take more than a decade to achieve. He first came to national attention in 2007 at age 26 when he debuted at the Met’s season-opening night as Arturo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and was quickly invited to appear again that same season. In 2009, he won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award and subsequently made his debuts at several of the world’s major opera houses and music festivals, including London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Salzburg Festival, and Vienna Staatsoper where he opened the 2010-11 Season as Rodolfo in La Bohème. In 2010 he created the role of Greenhorn in The Dallas Opera’s acclaimed world-premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s epic opera Moby Dick. Photo courtesy: LA Opera
It comes as no surprise that in recent seasons the Philadelphia-born tenor has been making headlines and reaping rave reviews. He launched his 2011-12 season with his second opening night performance at the Met, this time as Lord Percy in the Met’s first ever production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena with superstar Anna Netrebko in the title role. The October 15 performance was transmitted to movie theaters worldwide as part of the “Met: Live in HD” series. The opening night audience gave him a hearty ovation, his portrayal of the role, in particular his “impetuous and anguished singing” of the tenor aria “Vivi tu” with its “demanding passagework and exposed high notes”, cited by the New York Times as very much a part of the evening’s excitement. Enough notice for an A-list invitation to Charlie Rose’s round table for an interview alongside Anna Netrebko and Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb.
Click image above to WATCH VIDEO of interview excerpts.
Apart from this and his LA Opera debut in May 2012 as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème opposite his wife, soprano Ailyn Pérez (as Mimi) whose own star has kept pace with Stephen’s (Ailyn is the 2012 Richard Tucker Awardee, making them the only opera couple to have each won the honor), his other engagements of the season have included Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Vienna State Opera; Leicester in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda in concert performances to be recorded at the Gasteig in Munich; Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville; Fritz in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz opposite Ailyn Pérez with the Moscow Philharmonic; and Alfredo in La Traviata, once again opposite Ailyn Pérez, with Cincinnati Opera.
Two of his stand-out performances have been recorded: Verdi’s Otello in which he sang the role of Cassio, conducted by Riccardo Muti at the 2010 Salzburg Festival (DVD on the Major/Naxos) which was also broadcast to movie theaters worldwide, and his Covent Garden debut in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix which was released on CD in March 2011 by Opera Rara. It is easy to see an expanding discography in his crystal ball.
And then there are the prizes and honors and awards: Richard Tucker Award (2009), George London Foundation Singers Competition (2006, First Prize), Giargiari Competition (2006, First Prize and Audience Prize), Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Competition (2006, First Prize).
Today this once trumpet player (for 15 years) toots a different horn, taking his instrument on a trajectory headed toward the highest star. If this indeed is his destiny, Opera News’ forward-looking assessment of his gifts is most apt:
“A first-class talent … An intelligent, well trained singer whose enormous talent and natural musical instincts mark him for potential greatness.”
Not bad at all for this son of an ex-auto mechanic and an admissions manager for an assisted-living facility who–along with his teachers at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts where he went to school and met his equally gifted wife–must all be beaming with pride. - G. Cajipe Copyright © 2011
WATCH VIDEOS of STEPHEN COSTELLO and AILYN PEREZ filmed at LA OPERA’s April 18, 2012 media event moderated by GARY MURPHY, LA Opera Director of Public Relations::
Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez sing “O soave fanciulla” in LA Opera media event
Recorded by FanFaire.com at LA Opera’s April 18, 2012 media event introducing cast of upcoming revival of Puccini’s La Boheme (A Herbert Ross production)
Q & A with Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello (3)
Recorded by FanFaire.com at LA Opera media event held April 18, 2012; soprano Ailyn Perez talks about receiving the 2012 Richard Tucker Award (in Spanish)
Q & A with Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez (2)
Recorded by FanFaire.com at LA Opera media event held on April 18, 2012; Ailyn and Stephen talk about how they came to opera and the role public school music education programs played in the shaping of their careers.