Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo returns to Santa Fe to perform Gershwin tunes - Albuquerque Journal

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo returns to Santa Fe to perform Gershwin tunes

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo will perform at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 31. (Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, he of the Santa Fe Opera’s version of “Dracula,” is returning to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Costanzo, the star of the opera’s 2021 production of “The Lord of Cries,” will be at the Lensic Performing Arts Center at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31. Costanzo is a countertenor, whose range is comparable to a female contralto or mezzo-soprano.

Fort Worth Opera artistic director and principal conductor Joe Illick will lead the musicians through orchestral songs of the season, as well as a second half of Gershwin tunes, including “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “A Foggy Day,” “The Man I Love” and “I Got Rhythm.”

The show will mark the first time Costanzo has performed Gershwin with an orchestra.

“The first music I ever sang was Gershwin when I was 8 years old and I always enjoyed it,” he said.

Costanzo first traveled to Santa Fe at the age of 10 with his family. His parents renewed their marriage vows at El Santuarío de Chimayó.

The singer grew up in North Carolina, the son of two psychologists. At 8, his piano teacher suggested he try singing. He loved it.

“By the time I was 11, I decided I would try for Broadway and I went on tours.”

Those Broadway shows included “A Christmas Carol” with Ben Vereen and “The Sound of Music” with Marie Osmond.

Costanzo performed in his first opera, by Benjamin Britten, at age 13. He loved the emotional expression.

Illick has set Gershwin’s songs to arrangements used by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Interpreting Gershwin differs greatly from singing opera, Costanzo said.

“I hate it when opera singers sound like opera singers when they sing Gershwin,” he said. “It’s really about delivery.”

The program also features two contrasting pieces by Handel: “Pena tiranna” from his opera “Amadigi di Gaula” and “Vivi, tiranno” from the opera “Rodelinda.”

“One is very heart-rending and beautiful with these long legato lines,” Costanzo said of the former.

The singer made his Metropolitan Opera debut with “Rodelinda.”

“That piece has very fast-going notes that are very difficult to sing,” he said.

Costanzo recently completed a recording of “The Lord of Cries” with the Boston Modern Opera Project, to be released on CD next year.

The countertenor also is known for his performance in the title role of Philip Glass’ “Akhnaten” in 2019-2020 at the Metropolitan Opera. He was a 2020 recipient of the Beverly Sills Award.

The orchestra will play the “Polonaise” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, third movement.

Families are invited to an open rehearsal at 1 p.m. (Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.)

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