Glad Tidings From Glyndebourne: Critics Praise Stephen Costello’s Debut

Philadelphia-born tenor Stephen Costello made his Glyndebourne Festival debut on June 9 as Nemorino, the love-crazed country bumpkin in Donizetti’s brilliant bel canto comedy L’elisir d’amore. Critics have widely praised the “glowing revival” (Guardian), both for its “appealing staging” (The Stage) and “as fine a cast as you could wish for” (The Arts Desk), with one critic from The Express calling Costello’s Nemorino the “truly outstanding” performance of the evening and “a revelation.” Audiences will have the chance to hear Costello and his colleagues sing 14 more performances of Glyndebourne’s hit (June 17 – August 4). Opera-lovers lucky enough to be in Vienna this fall will hear Costello reprise the role when he returns to the Vienna State Opera for his second consecutive season.


The Arts Desk praised the singing of all of Glyndebourne’s principals but gave Costello’s Nemorino its highest marks: “The central quartet etched out their relations and respective psychologies economically and swiftly. Stephen Costello (whose Royal Opera House debut impressed our Edward Seckerson last year) was a revelation as the lovestruck electrician Nemorino, thumbs hooked into his dungarees, his tousled head digging into his chest. His many attempts to get into Adina’s knickers (first by actually trying to get into her knickers, then by trying not to) elicited tip-top deliveries, sweetly phrased and powerfully sung.”


The Stage noted, “Tall, good-looking and youthful, Costello charms in the role, acting with considerable skill and wit, his focused tenor making a graceful highlight out of ‘Una furtiva lagrima,’ his famous showpiece aria.” The Express lauded Costello’s “nicely judged comic performance,” adding that “his singing proved to be the real revelation of the night. The way his beautiful tenor voice rang out through the Glyndebourne auditorium should earn him a place in any list of the world’s great tenors.”

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