Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo‘s debut CD from Decca, called ARC, juxtaposes arias by Handel with pieces by Philip Glass. He sees a similarity in the two composers, beyond their considerable impact on both his career and approach to performing. The recording was recently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Classical Solo Vocal Album.
You can find out more about the album at Anthony Roth Costanzo‘s website.
The news of his nomination came as a surprise to Costanzo: “I had neglected to look what day they’d be nominating, because I didn’t even think I had a chance. So you can imagine when I woke up and turned on my phone and there were just tons of messages, and I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ So I was totally shocked and really, really thrilled. It’s such an honor to be nominated with all of these other great classical musicians.” His musical career began with music theater, and he was on Broadway before he was even a teenager. “By the time I was 13, I was asked to do an opera, and I was around all of these classical musicians and they said to me, ‘you know, maybe you’ve gone through puberty and you’re a countertenor.’ And I had no idea what that was. But I wanted to keep singing high, I loved singing high, so I figured out what it was, and I started training that way, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve always sung in the treble clef.” That repertoire can be limiting, if one sticks to tradition, and focuses on the Baroque roles written for the great castrati singers. But Costanzo wants to expand what people consider appropriate pieces for the range. “Handel really defined me as a singer, my technique, how I began, how I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera. But Glass changed me, when I did the role of Akhnaten, it changed the way I approach performance, and his very particular style really got inside of me and made me a different performer… So, I like to sort of think outside of the box, and not think of the countertenor voice as this precious, rarified thing. But rather something which is deeply human, which is a part of pop culture, in the sense that Prince, and Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake all used that falsetto register.”