Meet multitalented countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will perform in Jessica Lang's production of Stabat Mater (November 1–2) as part of this year's White Light Festival. And if he invites you to a dinner party, consider yourself warned.
First instrument you played?
The violin very badly when I was 3, and the piano almost as badly when I was 6.
Top three influences, musical or otherwise?
Only three? Let’s go with Fellini, Ballets Russes, Maria Callas.
Artist or album you have on repeat?
Philip Glass—and when you have him on repeat, that’s a lot of repeats!
Last live performance you saw?
Justin Peck’s sensational new Pulcinella at New York City Ballet.
Favorite city to play?
I'd have to say New York, not only because it’s home but also because I get the toughest and most honest criticism from my friends.
Dinner parties! I’ve mastered the art of five courses for 15 people, at least twice a month. I only feel I’ve invited the right mix of people if someone instigates a fight.
Favorite book or movie?
They change all the time, but right now the classic film All About Eve and a recent play by Jenny Schwartz, God’s Ear.
Top three pieces of advice for aspiring artists?
Figure out how to communicate with your audience, challenge yourself in different ways daily, and find new paths to beauty.
First live performance you remember seeing?
Victor Borge in his 80s playing the piano beautifully and making me laugh hysterically.
Artist you’d most like to meet (past or present)?
George Frideric Handel.
First paying gig?
The Broadway national tour of Falsettos when I was 11. Who knew I’d make the rest of my career singing in falsetto?
I just recorded my first album for Decca Gold with Jonathan Cohen and Les Violons du Roy, and I’m unreasonably excited about it.
Country (or city) you’d most like to visit?
I became engrossed in Egyptian history when preparing for the title role in Philip Glass's opera Akhnaten, and I would really love to go to Egypt!
Artist you’d most like to collaborate with?
Beyoncé. She’s such a multifaceted, brilliant artist and I’d love to see how she would approach operatic tropes!
First time you realized you wanted to be an artist?
At 8 years old when my piano teacher Pei-Fen Liu suggested I sing Gershwin’s "Summertime" instead of struggling to play the piano. I knew right away I wanted to sing.
What you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Your relationships with your colleagues will determine the kind of art you make.
Don’t take away the emotion and the intention in an effort to focus on perfection.
You hope someone comes away from one of your performances feeling…?
Next goal or challenge you’re setting for yourself?
Find a way to engage audiences who think they have no interest in classical music.
What do you want to be when you “grow up”?
I’d love to run a major opera house.