Tenor Stephen Costello will be hitting the high Cs - nine of them, in fact - when he opens San Diego Opera's season, making his role debut as Tonio in Donizetti's La fille du régiment (Jan. 26-Feb. 3). The Philadelphia-born singer - winner of the Richard Tucker Award - performed in the company's production of Faust in 2011, leading San Diego.com to declare that Costello's "polished tenor boasts all the traits we hope for." He is coming off his Berlin State Opera debut in December as Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème, of which Der Neue Merker observed that he "won over the audience quickly," adding that the singer "has a mellow sweetness in his voice and produces a delightful piano. Yet he has the vocal force required for outbursts of anger and despair." The tenor is looking ahead to more Donizetti, with a March run in L'elisir d'amore at the Vienna State Opera and an April production of Lucia di Lammermoor with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.
As Tonio in the San Diego Fille, Costello will star opposite Slovakian soprano L'ubica Vargicová in the title role, with Emilio Sagi directing a production imported from Italy's Teatro Comunale di Bologna. After a previous appearance by the tenor at the house, in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, San Diego Arts marveled: "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!"
In March, he returns for a third consecutive season to the Vienna State Opera, where he has been praised for singing that is "technically faultless and lyrical" by Der Kurier. He will sing Nemorino opposite his wife and fellow Tucker Award-winner, soprano Ailyn Pérez, in Otto Schenk's staging of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (March 1-8). Costello's collaborations with Pérez have consistently won praise for their potent chemistry, and his Nemorino has been celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic, inspiring Opera News to pronounce him "a first-rate talent" following a performance at Michigan Opera, and the UK's Arts Desk to declare that at Glyndebourne, "Costello's Nemorino was a revelation."
For his third Donizetti opera this season, Costello heads to Toronto to co-star with soprano Anna Christy in the Canadian Opera Company's Lucia di Lammermoor (April 17-May 24), a revival of David Alden's English National Opera production that the UK's Telegraph called "a magnificent conception."