“A prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact.” – Associated Press
Philadelphia-born tenor Stephen Costello has arrived on the West Coast for a month-long stay at San Diego Opera, where he will make two role debuts: the Italian Singer in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (April 3-12), and the title role in Gounod’s Faust (April 23, 26, 29 and May 1). Costello will be documenting his experiences with the company in an “Opera Diary” published by the San Diego Union-Tribune. The first of seven installments in the series is available here. Later this spring, Costello makes his Glyndebourne Festival debut as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (June 9 – August 4), and this fall he reprises the role of Percy in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, opening the Metropolitan Opera’s new season on September 26, 2011, in a new production featuring Anna Netrebko in the title role.
Speaking of the role of the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, which received its world premiere a century ago in Dresden, Costello observes: “The character has only about four minutes of music, but it’s some of the most beautiful music in the entire opera. So many wonderful tenors, including Luciano Pavarotti, have done this role at the Met and elsewhere, and I’m happy to follow in their footsteps.”
As Costello notes in his Union-Tribune feature, the role of Faust is an extremely important one for him – “a role I need to learn right the first time, because I will have many more in the future.” Asked how he prepares for an important role debut, Costello comments: “I approach the role from as many angles as possible: I study the score, research the text and original story, and listen to a bunch of recordings. I enjoy hearing how other tenors have approached the role. But however much I have prepared, everything really takes shape in rehearsals. How other people react and interact with you will have a huge impact on what you do and how you shape the character.”
As to the role of Faust itself, Costello calls it “brilliant,” but notes that much of the opera’s lasting appeal lies in part in the beauty of “some of the best duets in opera.” In San Diego, Costello will perform those duets with his wife, soprano Ailyn Pérez, who portrays Marguerite. “In some places,” Costello points out, “they actually call the opera Marguerite.” Costello and Pérez performed Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette together at San Diego Opera last season, and more recently at Opera Company of Philadelphia. A critic for the Associated Press reported, “Costello, winner of the 2009 Richard Tucker Award, is a prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact. There's an unforced warmth and generosity to his sound, and his big aria, “Ah! Leve-toi, soleil!” ("Arise, o sun!"), showed excellent control over phrasing and dynamics.”