Anthony Roth Costanzo, the avant-garde fashion/art company VISIONAIRE, and producer Cath Brittan present Glass Handel, an hour-long live interdisciplinary installation co-produced by National Sawdust and Opera Philadelphia and co-presented by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, on November 26–27. Eric Jacobsen will conduct The Knights, who accompany Costanzo for four performances over the two–day run.
For the installation, Costanzo and the orchestra perform on a stage. Behind them, artist George Condo paints on a semi-transparent scrim in real time to the music; ballet stars David Hallberg, Patricia Delgado, and So You Think You Can Dance winner Ricky Ubeda perform a dance choreographed by Tony Award winner Justin Peck, the resident choreographer of New York City Ballet; CALVIN KLEIN will wardrobe Costanzo, along with the dancers, orchestra, and people-movers (more about them later) in costumes designed by the brand’s Chief Creative Officer, Raf Simons; and screens stream a series of music videos synced to play along with the songs Costanzo performs.
That last element—music video—was the first one that came to Dean’s mind. “The first thing I said was, ‘We have to do opera music videos. You’ve got to do something that can be shared online,’” she recalls. “That’s the problem with opera. There’s nothing to share online. And, now, everything is consumed on our phones.”
Opera “music videos,” incorporated into the installation and shareable online, will be directed by: filmmakers James Ivory & Pix Talarico, Daniel Askill, Mark Romanek, Rupert Sanders; the duo behind Toiletpaper Magazine Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari; Tilda Swinton & Sandro Kopp; painter Mickalene Thomas; multi-disciplinary collective AES+F; and Chinese multi- media artist Tianzhuo Chen.
There is one more piece to the puzzle: Each audience member’s chair will be wheeled to a different part of the space at least once during the show. The cantilevered device being used to execute this feat was created by the performance artist Ryan McNamara, whose interactive dance/ art exhibitions have made him, according to The New Yorker, “a darling of the art and fashion beaux mondes.”
The immersive nature of the show brings the audience closer to the act of performing such demanding material. “You’re sitting next to a violinist who’s plucking the same note 50 times,” says Dean. “When you get close to it, you see all the individual human efforts that go into making the spectacle as a whole.”
Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo began performing professionally at the age of 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, film, and on Broadway. He is an exclusive recording artist with Decca Gold, and his first album will be released in September of 2018.
Costanzo has appeared with many of the world’s leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Dallas Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Spoleto Festival USA, and Finnish National Opera. In concert he has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed at a wide-ranging variety of venues including Carnegie Hall, Versailles, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Minamiza Kyoto, Joe’s Pub, The Guggenheim, The Park Avenue Armory, and Madison Square Garden.
Costanzo is a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and won first prize in Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in a Merchant Ivory film. He has begun working as a producer and curator in addition to a performer, creating shows for National Sawdust, Opera Philadelphia, the Philharmonia Baroque, Princeton University, WQXR, The State Theater in Salzburg, Master Voices and Kabuki-Za Tokyo. Costanzo graduated from Princeton University where he has returned to teach, and he received his masters from the Manhattan School of Music. In his youth he performed on Broadway and alongside Luciano Pavarotti.