Stephen Costello Returns to Met for House Title Role Debut in Roméo et Juliette (March 3–18) and Reprise of Star Turn in “Rat-Pack” Rigoletto (Jan 20–Feb 4)

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Stephen Costello Returns to Met for House Title Role Debut in Roméo et Juliette (March 3–18) and Reprise of Star Turn in “Rat-Pack” Rigoletto (Jan 20–Feb 4)

In the new year, Tucker Award-winning tenor Stephen Costello returns to New York’s Metropolitan Opera for a pair of back-to-back productions. Marking his house title role debut, he headlines Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (March 3–18) opposite Pretty Yende in the same hit Bartlett Sher staging in which he starred opposite Anna Netrebko at the 2010 Salzburg Festival. And in Michael Mayer’s novel Vegas setting of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Jan 20–Feb 4), he reprises the Sinatra-like portrayal of the Duke of Mantua to which the New York Times found his “bright tenor … perfectly suited” last year.

Shakespeare’s star-crossed lover has long been a signature role for the tenor. At San Diego Opera, the San Diego News Network declared his Roméo “electrifying,” and San Diego Arts marveled:

To describe the tall, broad-shouldered Costello as dashing is like calling Bill Gates well-off. And when Costello holds his gorgeous high notes just a few beats longer without the slightest sense of strain – now that is why folks come to the opera! … [I] doubt there is another tenor singing today better suited to this role.”

Similarly, at Santa Fe opera last summer, his Roméo continued to draw raves. The Wall Street Journal observed: Costello was a stunning Roméo, his tenor beautifully poised and free, ardent without pushing,” and the Santa Fe Reporter – finding him “a totally convincing Roméo with Gallic aplomb galore and the high notes to match” – named his as the best performance by a male singer of the entire season. Most recently, Shakespeare’s hero was the vehicle for his Korean debut last month at the Korea National Opera.

For his first Met Roméo, Costello looks forward to reuniting with Emmanuel Villaume, the conductor with whom he collaborated on two fall productions at the Dallas Opera, in Bartlett Sher’s celebrated staging. With its stunning costumes and vivid 18th-century setting, this has already wowed critics and audiences in Salzburg and at La Scala. Costello explains:

I did this production in Salzburg, and it’s simply one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen. I really connect with this music, and singing French music seems to come very naturally to me.”

Moreover, as he recently told Opera Warhorses,

Roméo is a role with dramatic strength. When I perform Roméo I have the opportunity to show a character’s emotional growth.”

When asked in the same interview about his other favorite productions, the tenor cited Michael Mayer’s groundbreaking “Rat Pack” take on Rigoletto at the Met. The New York Classical Review found that production “one of the great successes of the Peter Gelb era,” and singled out Costello’s performance:

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.”

Indeed, the tenor is one of today’s leading exponents of the role, which he had previously undertaken with four different companies and with which he has since made his house role debut at Madrid’s Teatro Real. In the Met’s upcoming run, he will be joined by Željko Lučić in the title role and Olga Peretyatko as Gilda. The Russian soprano was his co-star both in Madrid and at the Met last year, when their onstage chemistry prompted New York Classical Review to admire the way “the combination of Costello’s voice and presence made a real impression on her character.” Click here to see Costello sing the Duke’s iconic aria “La donna è mobile” from Act III of Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera.

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Costello’s recent double-header under Villaume’s leadership at the Dallas Opera proved triumphant. In his role debut as Lensky, in the company’s season-opening staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Opera Warhorses found that his voice had “grown in power and expressiveness,” and praised the way he “delivered Lensky’s aria ‘Kuda, kuda vï udalilis’ (the most famous tenor aria in Russian opera) with passion.” Likewise, in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, the Texas Classical Review concluded that he reprised his Greenhorn/Ishmael – the role he himself had originally created – “brilliantly.” The review elaborated, “His voice is powerful yet youthful-sounding, and brings needed poignancy to the role.”

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Stephen Costello: upcoming engagements

Jan 20, 26, & 30; Feb 4

New York

Metropolitan Opera

Verdi: Rigoletto (Duke of Mantua)

March 3, 8, 11, 15, & 18

New York

Metropolitan Opera

Gounod: Roméo et Juliette (Roméo)

May 10, 12, & 14

Moscow, Russia

Bolshoi Theatre

Verdi: La traviata (Alfredo)

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© 21C Media Group, December 2016

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