Gender identity, American opera, and a world premiere with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo

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Celebrated countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo will channel Dracula and Dionysus when he makes his Santa Fe Opera debut this season in the world premiere of The Lord of Cries.

Host (and uber fan-girl) Jane Trembley chats with Anthony about what it’s like having a lead role crafted especially for him by composer John Corigliano, with libretto by Mark Adamo. The pair also discuss why this heart-stopping production is the perfect opera with which to entice audiences back to the Crosby Theatre.

For those scratching their heads at the term countertenor, you know it when you hear it - and you’ve heard it. Think Prince, the BeeGees, and even Justin Timberlake “just done in a more full-throated way,” Anthony explains.

He traces the style’s origins back to the castrati popular in 16th-century opera. Those performers were widely revered as the rockstars of their time. The vocal range of countertenors is our modern equivalent, minus the castration, of course. Their high-voltage sound lends itself well to characters who occupy a more mysterious realm. “Contained within the countertenor’s voice are all of these questions of, really, identity as it relates to gender, as it relates to sexuality,” says Anthony, adding, “now we live in a time when everyone is thinking in a more open-minded way.”

The Lord of Cries takes full advantage of Anthony’s dynamic talents. John Corigliano, whom Anthony has known for 20 years, wrote his first opera, The Ghost of Versailles, in 1991. He hadn’t written a second opera, until now.

The piece poses complex questions about the human condition against an unsettling, ethereal backdrop. It’s a thrilling and terrifying space to play in as there’s no precedent, no previous productions from which Anthony might draw insight. “It's like having a suit that is tailor-made for your own body.”

As for making his debut on the legendary desert stage in the lead role of a new work, Anthony says, “Santa Fe has been at the forefront of bringing American opera to fruition, you know, new operas, new composers, and making it happen, and that's been so thrilling.”


Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Mixed by: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley


Anthony Roth Costanzo, American Countertenor


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