“A prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact” (Associated Press), Stephen Costello stands “among the world’s best tenors” (Daily Express, UK). The Philadelphia-born artist came to national attention in 2007, when, aged 26, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Two years later he won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, and in 2010 he drew especial praise for his creation of the role of Greenhorn (Ishmael) in Dallas Opera’s celebrated world-premiere production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick. 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; the Lyric Opera of Chicago; San Francisco Opera; Washington National Opera; and the Salzburg Festival. As Opera News noted in a recent “Spotlight” double-page spread, “the all-American tenor” is now “at the top of his game.”
Costello enjoys a heightened European presence in 2017-18, highlighted by a number of notable firsts. Bookending the season are his Paris Opera debut as Camille in Léhar’s The Merry Widow, and his house and role debuts as Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La favorite at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. He revisits a pair of signature roles, singing Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème for his Dresden Opera debut and his return to the Teatro Real Madrid, and the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Dresden Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and – marking his sole American appearance of 2017-18 – at the Canadian Opera Company. To complete the season, the tenor makes his Munich Philharmonic debut in Dvořák’s Stabat Mater under Manfred Honeck, and looks forward to the release of his first solo album, Bel Canto Arias, which he recorded with Constantine Orbelian for the Delos label.
Last season saw Costello headline back-to-back productions at both the Met, where he made his house title role debut in Bartlett Sher’s hit staging of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and revisited his star turn as the Duke of Mantua in Michael Mayer’s Vegas setting of Rigoletto; and the Dallas Opera, where he made his role debut as Lensky in the company’s season-opening production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and reprised his portrayal of Greenhorn in Moby-Dick. He also made his house role debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and sang the Duke of Mantua for a special televised, outdoor performance of Rigoletto in Hannover. In concert, he made his first appearances with the Boston Symphony and Andris Nelsons alongside Renée Fleming in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, besides headlining the opening night of Armenia’s Yerevan International Music Festival, and joining the Orchestre National de Lille for Verdi’s Requiem at Villeneuve’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
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. Noteworthy subsequent 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, Santa Fe Opera, and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, all 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, besides opening the company’s 2012-13 season with his first appearances as Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. He gave his first performances as Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon at Dallas Opera in 2016.
It was also at the Dallas Opera that Costello 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. He 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. For his Los Angeles Opera debut, Costello portrayed Rodolfo in La bohème; for his first appearances at Washington National Opera, he resumed the role of Greenhorn in Heggie/Scheer’s Moby-Dick; and for his Houston Grand Opera debut, he scored glowing reviews as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. Other career highlights saw him headline “BrAVA Philadelphia!” – the Academy of Vocal Arts’ 80th Anniversary Gala Concert – at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, and undertake the male lead in La traviata, both for the historic first live webcast of a complete opera from London’s Royal Opera House, and in a San Francisco Opera production that was simulcast to thousands in AT&T Park, home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants.
Costello’s performance as Cassio in Verdi’s Otello, under Riccardo Muti’s leadership at the Salzburg Festival, was released on DVD in 2010 (Major/Naxos), and his Covent Garden debut in Linda di Chamounix was issued on CD a year later (Opera Rara). His star turn in San Francisco Opera’s Moby-Dick, televised nationwide on PBS’s Great Performances, was released on DVD in 2013 (SFO) and named an “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone. Similarly, his appearance alongside Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and other operatic luminaries in 2013’s Richard Tucker Gala, which celebrated the legendary tenor’s centennial, was broadcast on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center and subsequently issued on DVD. The same year saw the release of here/after: songs of lost voices (PentaTone), featuring the tenor’s world premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s Friendly Persuasions: Homage to Poulenc.
Besides winning the 2009 Richard Tucker Award, Stephen 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. A native of Philadelphia, he is a graduate of the city’s famed Academy of Vocal Arts.
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