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Countertenor Takes the Reins at Opera Philadelphia

By Sara Schabas on April 29, 2024

Anthony Roth Costanzo
Anthony Roth Costanzo (Photo: courtesy of the artist)

The countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo has been appointed general director of Opera Philadelphia. Costanzo will succeed the Toronto-born David B. Devan, who announced his departure from the company last spring.

Driving the news: Anthony Roth Costanzo, Opera Philadelphia’s new general director, has a long history with the company. When he was 13, Costanzo played the shepherd in the company’s production of Tosca alongside Luciano Pavarotti. Now an acclaimed countertenor, Costanzo appears regularly with major companies around the world. Opera Philadelphia’s board was drawn to the singer’s ideas to help attract new audiences, sustainability initiatives, as well as his well-rounded background.

Playing catch-up: When Costanzo was in his twenties, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, impeding his ability to sing. He worked daily with his teacher Joan Patenaude-Yarnell as part of his recovery. He returned to singing and won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions the following year. Two years ago, Costanzo made headlines as the genderfluid Egyptian pharaoh and title character in Philip Glass’ Akhnaten at the Met. Costanzo immersed himself in the role by studying Egyptology with experts at Oxford University and working out “furiously” in preparation for his costuming. Costanzo also stunned audiences by making his first onstage entrance as the pharaoh in his birthday suit; the first male-frontal nudity at the Metropolitan Opera. Chapeau.

Sara Schabas
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