“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; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Vienna State Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; San Francisco Opera; Washington National Opera; and the Salzburg Festival. As Opera News noted in a “Spotlight” double-page spread, the “all-American tenor” is now “at the top of his game.”
Costello maintains a major presence in France this season. He makes his role debut as Dvořák’s Prince in Opéra du Rhin’s new production of Rusalka, before returning to the Paris Opera to star in a new staging of Massenet’s Manon and make his role debut as Ferrando in Così fan tutte, which marks his first professional performances in a Mozart role. Besides reprising his account of Rodolfo, a longtime signature role, in productions of Puccini’s La bohème at Germany’s Semperoper Dresden and Hamburg State Opera, he returns to the Met to partner Diana Damrau in his house role debut as Leicester in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, which will be transmitted live to cinemas around the world in the company’s celebrated Live in HD series. To complete the season, the tenor makes his Prague debut with “Two Tenors!,” a concert of bel canto arias in the Czech capital, and headlines “An Evening of Bel Canto Arias” at Cincinnati Opera, to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.
In summer and fall 2018 Costello made back-to-back leading role debuts, returning to Spain for his house and role debuts as Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La favorite at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu before launching the season with his first performances as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen at the Dallas Opera. The 2018-19 season also saw him reprise his celebrated interpretation of Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at the Hamburg State Opera and the Met, where he partnered Anita Hartig in a new staging by Michael Mayer. He made both his Japanese operatic debut and his role debut as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at Tokyo’s New National Theatre, besides returning to Germany’s Semperoper Dresden and Nationaltheater Mannheim as the same composer’s Rodolfo. To crown the season, Costello made his solo album debut with A Te, O Cara; a Delos collection of Donizetti, Verdi and Bellini bel canto arias in which the tenor “sounds better than ever” (Opera News), this was named “Best Vocal Recital Disc of 2018” (Voix des Arts).
Costello played the tenor lead in each of Donizetti’s three Tudor operas at the Dallas Opera, 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. Costello made his first appearances with the Boston Symphony and Andris Nelsons alongside Renée Fleming in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. For his Los Angeles Opera and Dresden Opera debuts, he portrayed Rodolfo in La bohème; for his Paris Opera debut, he sang Camille in Léhar’s The Merry Widow; 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. Verdi’s Duke has since also been the vehicle for Costello’s memorable appearances in the Met’s Vegas setting of the opera, again directed by Michael Mayer, and in a special televised, outdoor performance of Rigoletto in Hannover. 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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