Archive for the stephen costello Category

Close harmony

Posted in mp3, stephen costello on January 10, 2008 by lacieca

La Cieca thanks you all for your patience. And now, at the proper playback speed, the “Cherry Duet” as sung by Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez at their London recital Tuesday night. Iain Burnside is the pianist.

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Christmas is here, bringing good Cher

Posted in camp, e major is a really high key, mp3, stephen costello on December 22, 2007 by lacieca

While we’re waiting for the restoration of Stephen Costello‘s ringing rendition of “O Holy Night,” La Cieca thought you might like to hear another great American tenor’s take on the classic carol.

Have Yourself a Hunky Little Christmas

Posted in hunkentenor, stephen costello, youtube on December 21, 2007 by lacieca

UPDATE: The YouTube clip of Stephen Costello singing “O Holy Night” is no longer available. Given Stephen’s ubiquity on YouTube, though, surely it can’t be long before another performance of this song goes live, and La Cieca promises to link as soon as her veritable army of sources inform her. In the meantime, here’s another number. Right religion, even if it’s the “wrong” holiday.

Di faci tuttavia splende il Costello!

Posted in broadcast, gualtier malde, met, our own, stephen costello on October 26, 2007 by lacieca

Our Own Gualtier Maldè reflects on last night’s Met Lucia:

The Met has often been accused and rightly so of ignoring young talent and waiting too long to hire up-and-coming new stars while hanging on to declining old favorites well past their sell-by date. Occasionally a promising new talent from the Young Artists Program will blossom quickly and get chances – Dwayne Croft fifteen years ago is an example.

However, it was a surprise when James Levine announced 26 year-old Stephen Costello for one performance of Edgardo in Lucia this season. He had definitely made an impression as Arturo on opening night and I have been told did impressively subbing for Giordani as Edgardo in some early rehearsals. It was with a mix of trepidation and excitement that I attended last night’s performance. Making a starring role debut at age 26 in a house the size of the Met is a daunting experience for anyone.

Well, how was he? This much can be said – he immediately got the audience on his side and got the biggest ovation at the end (admittedly many family members, schoolmates and friends were in the audience but not that many). His youth, sweet timbre, precocious poise and emotional involvement communicated to the audience. However, the role of Edgardo, though lyric, is demanding with a wide range of dynamics, vocal coloration and requires both declamation and floated legato. Costello’s voice seemed a size too small for the role in a house this large. Though he wasn’t inaudible, he definitely seemed lightweight vocally. He seemed boyish and slight next to Annick Massis who is hardly a Lucia in the Sutherland/Callas heroic mold.

The elegant phrasing and poised musicianship were juxtaposed against a voice that could turn shallow and a touch insecure when pressures mounted. Lyrical moments like “Verranno a te” and “Fra poco a me ricovero” were sweet and pleasing. Declamatory moments like the outbursts in the “maledizione” scene and confrontation with Enrico in “Wolf’s Crag” found the young man working close to his limits. The fact that he didn’t push well beyond those limits and lasted in fairly fresh form to the end of the opera speaks well for his pacing and intelligence. A naturally appealing and graceful stage presence, he gained in dramatic authority as the evening progressed culminating in a moving death scene.

However, at this juncture he might be wise to leave the Edgardo to smaller theaters and concentrate on roles like Ernesto, Nadir and Nemorino that could capitalize on his soaring upper register and boyish charm and let himself grow into roles like the Duke of Mantua, Edgardo, Rodolfo and Alfredo with time.

A salutory example currently singing on the Met roster is Matthew Polenzani who started modestly at the Met seven or eight years ago singing parts like Jacquino and Lindoro and now in his thirties is moving into Romeo, Edgardo and Alfredo internationally with superb notices. It isn’t a splashy overnight star trajectory but it worked for him and the Met and when the big star roles came, he was fully formed and ready to do them and himself full justice.

The evening really belonged to the elegant Lucia of French coloratura Annick Massis. Her voice is creamier and softer-textured than that of Natalie Dessay but she has a fuller and more reliable upper extension. A patrician stage figure, her acting was detailed and intelligent but lacked the “in the moment” intensity and spontaneity that Dessay brings to her work. There were pluses both musical and dramatic to Massis’ more calculated approach – she never lost vocal poise and beauty and her performance was consistent and beautifully paced.

The loss of some dramatic excitement definitely had musical gains and resulted in a performance that gave overall pleasure. The flute obbligato in the cadenza of the mad scene was reinstated for her as was about 95% of the traditional Mathilde Marchesi cadenza minus the top E flats. Those were abundant elsewhere and held to exciting effect.

Kwiecien shows greater command and suavity in his Enrico, singing more judiciously in the beginning but having lots of power when needed – especially in his climactic top notes. John Relyea has a hint of graininess and dryness in his tone that is worrying in an artist who is still fairly young. I miss the vocal velvet of his earlier days. He was solid but not exciting.

Mr. Costello came through his trial by fire with grace and made some new fans. Now, he needs to pace himself wisely singing lighter roles at the Met and letting his voice and technique mature in the smaller and medium size houses until he is ready to tackle the major lyric repertoire here and internationally. The stuff was definitely there last night, but in embryo. — Gualtier Maldè

The season begins. Finally.

Posted in 2007, bel canto, critic, dessay, gcn, giordani, hunkentenor, met, netrebko, nyco, review, stephen costello on October 13, 2007 by lacieca

“The Metropolitan Opera’s opening week offered two super-starry nights that more than offset a misfired new production across the plaza at the New York City Opera.” After some rather frustrating technical delays, our JJ‘s reviews of the Met’s Roméo and Lucia, plus the NYCO’s Cav/Pag, are at last online at Gay City News. (Perhaps at this point they can be read for historical significance, if nothing else.)

Chi vi frena in tal momento?

Posted in met, stephen costello on October 11, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca notices there are only a few tickets remaining to the Met’s October 25 Lucia, featuring, as if she has to tell you, Stephen Costello‘s role debut as Edgardo. Don’t waste any more time, cher public.

Someone else does the heavy lifting for a change

Posted in dessay, giordani, guest critic, met, stephen costello on October 10, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca introduces a new feature on parterre.com, the guest review. First up to bat is longtime print zine stalwart Little Stevie, who saw Lucia di Lammermoor last night.

Take this as you will: based on this evenings performance the new Met Lucia is pretty bad. The acclaimed Ms. Zimmerman simply doesn’t know how to direct opera. The chorus work was among the WORST I have ever seen in any theatre – no motivation, and some of the most boring groupings you can imagine – very static. The highly touted “nuanced portrayals” of the principles translates to “can’t get the performances past the footlights”. As viewed from Parterre Box 12 tonight, my impression was that the relationships were so poorly realized that everyone was acting in their own opera with no connection happening between any of them. Dessay and Giordani hit the mark in the Act 1 love duet, but prior to and after that the opera turned into an emotional black hole.

As each act came about I could feel the performance slipping away dramatically. This was unfortunate for Ms. Dessay’s Mad Scene – which was very well sung, with reinstated pages of music new to my ears, and extremely interesting and difficult coloratura tailored to her abilities. If the opera had actually built up to this scene it would have been an experience to remember. The production lets her down, and the scene is an island in a vast ocean of emptiness. You really must experience Act 3 Sc. 1 between Edgardo and Enrico to believe it. Passionless, limp, “cross the stage on this line” type of directing – no conflict, no danger. It played as thought they were an East Village avant garde opera troupe making fun of the structure of the piece in a deconstructionist production. There was barely enough applause to cover the time to black out and raise the scrim (see below) on Sc. 2.

I have read that Ms. Zimmerman traveled with her designers to Scotland to soak up local color and get inspiration for this production. Well the only thing they seemed to have soaked up are several hundred gallons of sea foam green paint, and not a very stage worthy or pleasant shade either. Based on the designs released prior to opening I was expecting darkly foreboding landscapes, expressionistic backgrounds, gloomy yet appropriate spaces. The grassy mound in Act 1 works, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was the anorexic sister of the Met’s Parsifal set. Act 2 is a deluge of the aforementioned “sea foam green” – from the floor to way up past our site lines – all three walls of the set.

Act 3 is where it really falls apart. Scene 1: Lightning out of your local carnival’s “spooky house” housed in a black scrim that materializes into Wolf’s Crag Castle thanks to two cutouts at top and bottom with part of the Scene 2 stairs sticking out. Edgardo enters to a bare stage with your uncle’s ugly yellow wing backed chair the only piece on stage. Scene 2 was the most confusing – the costumes, giant wooden stairs and balcony (read faux-finished cat walk) seemed to place the scene in the Wild West and looked to be straight out of Miss Kitty’s Saloon from Gunsmoke!! Perhaps up close the impression was richer, but from my seat it sure didn’t read as Scotland. The Ravenswoods cemetery was a particular embarrassment – 2 or 3 cutout headstones that looked to be supported in the back by 2×4’s. Cheap cheap CHEAP!

The singing was OK. Myers (as Normanno in Act 1 Sc. 1) was inaudible when the ensemble was singing, and weak on solo lines. Relyea was wooly and tended to go flat. Giordani was Giordani – very good but just shy of superstar tenor quality. Kwiecien – I wish I could rave – but he has one dynamic – mezzo forte – a short breath line – and was quite cardboard tonight. He also really sang over Dessay in their scenes together. Stephen Costello projected youth, vigor, and a super fine tenor that has alot of ring top to bottom, though the absolute top didn’t quite bloom bigger as one might want – but what a fantastic sound. — Little Stevie

If you would like to be a guest critic on parterre.com, please contact La Cieca. First priority will be given to regular commenters.