On a lovely Friday afternoon in early spring, Glimmerglass Artistic & General Director, Rob Ainsley, and 2023 Artist-in-Residence, Anthony Roth Costanzo, met via Zoom to talk about the GRAMMY-award winner’s recent work, his time as a Young Artist at Glimmerglass, what he’s most excited about for the upcoming summer, and much more. We are excited to share a piece of that conversation with you in this month’s Glimmers newsletter.
Rob Ainsley (RA): Anthony, we are so excited for you to join us this summer at Glimmerglass. Tell us about the exhilarating work you’ve been doing lately.
Anthony Roth Costanzo (ARC): Well, I’ve been very busy! I’m thrilled to have just returned from London where we sold out our sixth run of Akhnaten (Philip Glass), which was at the English National Opera. Then, before that, I was in London with two projects that I co-created—one based on my first album, called simply Glass Handel. It is a project done in collaboration with incredible artists like Tilda Swinton, who directed a film for us; Raf Simons, the fashion designer; George Condo, the painter; Glenn Brown, the painter; and Justin Peck, the choreographer. After premiering it with Opera Philadelphia, we took it to the BBC Proms. But we took the BBC Proms out of the Royal Albert Hall and into Printworks, one of the largest nightclubs in London, so we had a totally different audience for this incredible multimedia spectacular. Then, I did 22 performances in London of my show with cabaret icon, Justin Vivian Bond. We created that show, called Only An Octave Apart, based on the idea that we both look very different from the way we sound. So, it’s been an exciting year in London. I’m in the U.S. now singing Amadigi di Gaula, a wonderful Handel opera, with Philharmonia Baroque. I feel very much like I am getting prepared for this summer’s Rinaldo at Glimmerglass—getting back into the Handel state of mind. Before I come to Glimmerglass, I’m very excited to bring my show Only An Octave Apart to the Spoleto Festival. While there I’ll also be singing chamber music and premiering a piece by Osvaldo Golijov that was written for me. I’ll also be doing a concert on the stage of Teatro Real in Madrid, where they are giving me an award for the best contribution to their operatic season, will be singing with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and collaborating with Gucci and a wonderful choreographer named Adam Linder on a gala performance at The Ren (The Renaissance Society) in Chicago.
RA: You certainly have been busy. So, one of your passions—something you’re known and respected for—is this concept of artistic entrepreneurship. It is something that you’ve lived out in your life and something you’ll be working on with the Young Artists this summer. Can you touch on that—on how that concept manifests in your career?
ARC: My career has really become a balance between existing within the industry of classical music and trying to break the mold that industry represents. What that means for me is enjoying continuing to hone my craft so that I can execute our artistic traditions at the highest possible levels, and also coming up with ideas that push the boundaries of the craft. So, as you can see, in the last year and even in the couple months leading up to Glimmerglass, I am working to diversify how I think about singing and art-making.
RA: So, what are you most excited about in your role as Artist-in-Residence? What appeals to you about passing on your expertise and about developing the next generation?
ARC: One thing I’ve realized about Artist-in-Residence positions—and teaching in general—is that it’s actually less about “passing on” than you might think. In many cases, I gain so much inspiration and ideas from the Young Artists. The older I get, the less I feel in touch with the zeitgeist, with what young people are thinking, and with how—if they love this artform—they incorporate it into their lives. I’m just so excited to get to know these artists and to get to know what they are interested in. Then, I feel my role is to push them to think beyond what they are being asked in the normal context.
RA: And how do you anticipate working with them to put together your two cabaret performances at the Festival this summer?
ARC: Well, once I discover where their interests lie, where their inspirations are, then we can work to develop those into a program that will really be an expression of who they are and who I am. I think the honest expression of self is really what makes an artist interesting to an audience. So, in this context, I see it as my role to get these artists to dig deeper into that quest.
RA: You were a Young Artist at Glimmerglass. What do you love about Glimmerglass? What’s special about this place and what are you looking forward to this summer?
ARC: Glimmerglass feels like this idyllic community where you are almost in a retreat and therefore can focus completely on the artform. I remember that the family I developed there as a Young Artist was a very powerful and important one. But at the same time there’s nothing small-town or small-potatoes about it. It’s an international level of art-making—of creating—and I love the juxtaposition of those two feelings when you’re at Glimmerglass. It is a small family retreat and world-class festival.
RA: You’re saying all the right things.
ARC: I try! I spent four summers at Glimmerglass—2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013—two years as a Young Artist and two years as a Guest Artist. I’ve tried to imagine what has changed in the past 10 years—with what Francesca brought to the Festival, with what all of the artists have done—I am most excited to find out, to see how the town has changed, to see all the old faces and new. And, obviously, the world has changed since I was last there. I’m not even sure if when last I was there we had TikTok, for example. So it will be really exciting to interface in a new way with what the Festival has to offer. I think it will be a thrilling summer!
RA: Agreed! It will be a wonderful summer and we can’t wait to have you here.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see Anthony on the Alice Busch Opera Theater stage in Rinaldo. Get you tickets today! You’ll have the opportunity to read more of Rob and Anthony’s conversation when you attend the Festival this summer. In the 2023 Program Book, they dive into topics like the future of opera, the role of the artist in society today, technology in the arts, and much more. And, see the culmination of Anthony’s work with Young Artists in his Pavilion offering, An Evening with Anthony Roth Costanzo. There are only a handful of tickets left, so get yours today before it’s too late!