Stephen Costello press reviews
Cincinnati Opera - la Boheme
"Cincinnati Opera's fine, newer Bohemians:
...one could hardly wish for a finer ensemble of singing actors than
these Bohemians, led by the poet Rodolfo, wonderfully sung by Stephen Costello, and the consumptive seamstress Mimi, a radiant Ailyn Pérez. It was impressive to see how beautifully they could sing...
Costello and Pérez, newlyweds in real life, communicated a chemistry and genuine quality that made them believable as the young lovers. Costello's fresh, Italianate tenor was consistently a joy to hear. He projected ringing timbre and sweet intensity in his "Che gelida manina" (Your tiny hand is frozen) and was persuasive amid the shenanigans of the four young Bohemians...
Mimi and Rodolfo's duet, "O soave fanciulla" was stunning for the singers' warmth of tone and effortless high notes."
July 2010, The Enquirer
"The music was well attended to by an outstanding cast of young singing actors, headed by tenor Stephen Costello and soprano Ailyn Perez as Rodolfo and Mimi, whose dreams of love are disappointed by the realities of life. Married in real life, the two singers made an attractive and emotionally appealing couple, with fresh young voices that soared through the hall individually and together, often over the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in full cry.
...The chemistry between Costello and Perez was potent, from their first meeting to ignite Mimi's quenched candle to their heart-breaking farewell as she succumbed to tuberculosis. They made it obvious that Mimi and Rodolfo already had their eyes on each another, as he swooped her into his apartment and she conveniently "lost" her key to prolong their initial encounter. As they sang of parting, but "not until springtime," Marcello and Musetta quarreled visibly behind a second-story window. The effect was ineffably tender."
July 2010, Music in Cincinnati
Dallas Opera Opera - Moby-Dick
"Stephen Costello sings beautifully as Greenhorn (Ishmael in the novel)."
May 2010, Financial Times
"Stephen Costello’s clear, lighter-weight tenor seems to be developing beautifully"
May 2010, The Washington Post
"Tenor Stephen Costello was an ardent, sweet-voiced Greenhorn"
May 2010, San Francisco Chronicle
"Stephen Costello, the excellent young lyric tenor singing Greenhorn, got several fine showpieces, particularly his Act II musing on Ahab, "Human madness is a cunning and most feline thing."
May 2010, Wall Street Journal
"and tenor Stephen Costello as Ishmael (known through most of the opera as “Greenhorn”), turned in performances worthy of a major premiere"
May 2010, www.dmagazine.com
"Stephen Costello, a bright young tenor and the 2009 Richard Tucker Award winner, was well suited to the role of the naïve, effusive Greenhorn."
May 2010, The New York Times
San Diego Opera - Romeo
Interview with Stephen about Romeo at San Diego Opera.
Interview with Ailyn and Stephen about a married couple performing Romeo and Juliette.
“An added attraction was having the title roles sung by a married couple: Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello. In their company debuts, during which they portrayed Romeo and Juliet together for the first time, they sang attractively, acted persuasively and made the kissing look refreshingly real, particularly on their wedding night...She found her match in the handsome Costello who was, to my ears, even more impressive. Whether climbing Juliet’s balcony, or prolonging high notes with ‘listen-to-what-I-can-do’ brio, the leggiero tenor was a compelling Romeo. His ardour was unmistakable, his tone-production unbreakable. Though his singing could have been more nuanced, Costello made the phrasing in ‘Ah! Leve-toi soleil’ as sensual as a caress. And he blended quite beautifully with Perez in their duets, which received plush musical cushioning from Keltner and the San Diego Symphony.”
Opera Magazine, August 2010
"A cast of vocally robust young singers, lithe and animated direction, and lush orchestral support make this Romeo and Juliet a rewarding, even exciting night at the opera.
In Ailyn Pérez’s Juliet and Stephen Costello’s Romeo we easily see the Bard’s impetuous, enraptured young lovers, but more importantly we hear a fullness and warmth in their voices that make Gounod’s opulent lines soar...
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! His eager, athletic singing in the balcony scene—not to mention his erotic edge in the nuptial duet rolling about Juliet’s curtained four-poster—combined with his idiomatic command of the French operatic style make me doubt there is another tenor singing today better suited to this role."
San Diego Arts, Sandiego.com, March 2010
"[Perez] is lovely to look at, a fine actress, and looks to be the absolute star of the show until her real-life husband, American tenor Stephen Costello, steps onstage as Romeo. From that point on, when he is onstage, it is difficult to look at anyone else. Costello as Romeo is electrifying. He is tall, handsome, and young, believably portraying a teenager who could fall hopelessly in love after one brief meeting and willingly die for that love.
Costello’s voice is passionate and powerful, but with a quality of impetuosity and innocence that precisely suits the role. His second-act aria below Juliet’s window — “Ah! Lève-toi soleil” — showcases his gorgeous vocal quality — but then, so does every note he sings. In the course of the opera, Romeo and Juliet have four love duets, each more lovely than the last, and four are not too many.
San Diego News Network, March 2010
Moscow State Philharmonic Society - Romeo
"It happens sometimes that the presence of a certain artist can easily replace the opera house with its sets and costumes, and that evening there were at least two of them…28-years-old Stephen Costello proved to be a possessor of strong and flexible lyrical voice and the musician with a refined taste and temperament. Here it is, the classical opera of today - the inspiring art of young people, handsome, ambitious and gifted. If we count off our fingers recalling the highlights of the season, this performance will surely be in the first five.”
Vedomosti/The Financial Times
"It is quite unbeliavable: Moscow has won the tomorrow's opera stars even before the world's leading stages"
Royal Opera House Covent Garden - Gianni Schicchi
"Maria Bengtsson's sweet-toned Lauretta and Stephen Costello's classy Rinuccio do give it all a sentimental, if not exactly authentically emotional, centre. But that is precisely what Puccini intended." The Guardian, 28 October 2009 L'Heure Espagnole / Gianni Schicchi double bill, conducted by Antonio Pappano
Royal Opera House Covent Garden - Linda di Chamounix
Interview with Stephen about his Royal Opera House debut as Carlo in Linda di Chamounix.
"Stephen Costello (Carlo), one of the brightest rising US stars, still in his twenties, but already promising a golden future...Costello’s lovely, youthful-sounding lyric Italianate voice and ardent manner are already winning him friends and fans across the pond." The Sunday Times, 20 September
"Linda’s eventual betrothed Carlo was, by contrast, not only reliable but has a lyric tenor voice of great beauty: Stephen Costello will be a big star" The Spectator, 16 September 2009
"Up and coming American tenor Stephen Costello boasted charm and Italianate grace as Linda’s intended, Carlo."
The Times, September 2009
"I was impressed, too, with Stephen Costello's Carlo:...he sang with such tonal lustre and style that great things seem certain for his future."
Musical Criticism, September 2009
“Stephen Costello’s Carlo is terrific, his high notes soaring above the orchestra with all the passion and anguish of the vexed lover.”
The Independent, 15 September 2009
“As her lover Carlo, Stephen Costello was quite a find. Philadelphia trained (like Gutiérrez) he had a ringing Italianate voice, with lovely open tones and the ability to convey passion and ardour. Unlike some young tenors he was also willing to sing quietly, which is a great bonus…Costello's career will, I think, develop into singing Verdi and Puccini. His way with Donizetti was very much a twentieth century style, with the voice sung full to the top. There were moments when I would have liked for some interpolated head voice acuti and cadenzas. But faced with such a stunning instrument, it seems churlish to complain.”
Music & Vision, 9 September 2009
“As her lover, Carlo, Stephen Costello revealed an elegant tenor, heady of tone and with a heroic edge for the noble’s more dramatic outbursts. He too blended well with Gutiérrez in their duets, and on this showing should be much in demand as an eloquent romantic tenor for this bel canto repertoire.”
Classical Source, September 2009
“American tenor Stephen Costello stole the show as the agonised, yearning hero Carlo.” The Guardian, 13 September 2009
“up and coming American tenor Stephen Costello boasted charm and Italianate grace as Linda’s intended, Carlo”
The Times, 7 September 2009
“Upcoming tenor Stephen Costello, similarly debuting, as Linda's paramour, Carlo, also provided much enjoyment. His wonderfully resonant Italianate timbre, worked particularly well in the second act show piece, 'Se tanto in ira agli uomini'.” Music OMH, 7 September 2009
Opera Company of Philadephia - Gianni Schicchi
"Schicchi (featuring the glamorous young Philadelphia-based couple Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez) was right at every turn...The Perez/Costello pairing was unsurprisingly captivating, Perez going for fresh text readings at every phrase and Costello delivering some tantalizing darker colors that hint at what he'll be when he graduates from the "promising" stage. I love the way they complement each other. Even as a student, Perez's musical personality was fully formed; she has simply discovered more ways to use it. Costello, at this point, is more of a tabula rasa on which many possible characters can be formed, albeit a bit vaguely.
Inquirer Classical Music Critic, April 2009
Michigan Opera - L'elisir d'amore
"On March 27, when tenor Stephen Costello sang the opening notes of "Quanto e bella" in Michigan Opera Theatre's production of L'Elisir d'Amore at the Detroit Opera House, my ears told me I was in for some fine singing. As he continued through the aria, it became clear that I was in the presence of a first-class talent. By the time the opera finished, several hours later — its Act II highlight an "Una furtiva lagrima" whose eloquence continues to resonate — there was no doubt that Costello was an intelligent, well trained singer whose enormous talent and natural musical instincts mark him for potential greatness. Provided he has the crucial wisdom to keep his gifts intact, Costello is clearly destined for a major career...Soprano Ailyn Perez (who happens to be Costello's wife) sang Adina with perky security...Given the financial crunch that has hit Michigan's arts organizations with a special vehemence during these dire economic times, it was consoling to witness the sunny success of this L'Elisir. It was even more consoling to experience, in the performance of Stephen Costello, the emergence of a potential opera superstar."
Opera News Online, March 2009
"I don't recall the last time I witnessed an opera audience connect with a comedy so immediately and with such sustained, wide-eyed enthusiasm as MOT's opening night crowd did Friday. Matter of fact, both the onstage doings and the audience's bubbly response were more suggestive of Broadway than opera...And it all started, well, right at the start, with tenor Stephen Costello's endearing, effortlessly comedic appearance as the love-struck village dope, Nemorino. Right here I should mention that Donizetti, who penned "The Elixir of Love" in 1832, would have been mightily impressed by the conveyance that brings his Nemorino into view in this production. It's an old-timey ice cream truck...It's hard to know which to admire more, Costello's smart, heart-tugging comic turn, something between Charlie Chaplin and a young Steve Martin, or his superb singing - and not just in Nemorino's hugely famous lament "Una furtiva lagrima." Indeed, the fame of that aria casts a regrettable shadow over the rest of a score that abounds in vocal riches, much of it in brilliant duets for Nemorino and Adina - the vivacious and vocally agile soprano Ailyn Perez."
The Detroit News, March 2009
“Michigan Opera Theatre’s charming new production of Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” which updates the action from early-19th century Europe to small-town America around 1917, is beautifully conceived and staged, eloquently sung by a fresh-voiced young cast and saturated with heartfelt song, real laughs and honest romantic yearning. It is, to put it another way, as alluring as the first flush of spring...The quack Doctor Dulcamara stirs the plot with his faux love potion, and there's also the famous furtive tear that prompts one of the most beloved tenor anthems in the repertoire — and which on Friday showed off the remarkably assured and sweet-voiced 29-year-old Stephen Costello...But the gorgeous singing, lucid acting and palpable chemistry between Costello’s Nemorino and Ailyn Pérez’s Adina elevated the evening to a higher plane. (The singers are married in real life.) You rooted for Costello’s Nemorino, not because you were supposed to but because he made you. His opening cavatina “Quanto e bella” revealed a bright voice with a warm and charismatic core and an ear for long-breathed, Italianate phrasing. His “Furtive Tear” was an eloquently shaped expression of tenderness, with only a brief moment when you heard the labor. Otherwise, butter. Tall and handsome, he also showed a gift for physical comedy and wordless expression, from a drunken dance medley (part soft-shoe, part Charleston) to a slumped shoulder poignancy recalling Chaplin’s Little Tramp. A winsome Adina, Pérez’s soprano brought a graceful élan and subtle gradations of color to Donizetti’s agile melodies. Baritone Dalibor Jenis’ Belcore and bass Burak Bilgili’s Dulcamara were both drawn more broadly and humorously but never slipped into mere silliness, and each showed a rich and attractive voice. The chorus sounded fine. I wish the MOT orchestra, conducted by Stephen Lord, had played with more intensity and plusher textures, but the big moments came alive. From beginning to end, I had a smile on my face.”
Free Press Music Critic, March 28 2009
Dallas Opera - Roberto Devereux
“In many ways the expected star of the performance was the young American tenor Stephen Costello in the title role. Costello - Liecester in Dallas's 'Maria Stuarda' last season - looked, acted and sang the demanding part of the headstrong Devereux with finesse. His golden voice encompassed power and sweetness, passion and control, along with an abundance of squillo - that strong, ringing tembre now seemingly so rare in tenors. Costello produced burnished sounds that were free of strain”.
Opera News, April 2009
Salzburg Festival Opera - Otello
“The three principals nearly always eclipse Cassio, but Stephen Costello’s arresting singing made one take notice”.
MusicalAmerica.com, 27 August, 2008
"Stephen Costello both looked and sang exactly as I imagine Cassio would have done".
Mostly Opera, 27 August 2008
"And a young American tenor with a very bright future was in the house: That was Stephen Costello, who portrayed Cassio. What a beautiful, beautiful sound he makes — and he knows what to do with it".
New York - The Sun, 21 August 2008
"only the Cassio of the young American tenor...makes you listen up: what a fine, siren-like timbre and sensitive tenor".
Tagesspiegel, 4 August 2008