During what would have been Spoleto Festival USA’s 44th season, we’ve spoken with several artists who were slated to arrive in Charleston about their weeks in quarantine. How do they practice? What’s in their ovens? How do the folks who inspire us so much stay inspired themselves? Our “What I’m Watching” series asks just that. Read on this week to hear from famed countertenor and Bank of America Chamber Music favorite Anthony Roth Costanzo.
Anthony Roth Costanzo first made his Spoleto debut in 2001, with a role in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. In 2017 he sang the title role in the Festival’s production of Vivaldi’s Farnace, and his appearances during the Bank of America Chamber Music series from 2016 on have been some of the hottest tickets going. Outside of Spoleto, he makes his home in New York and recently starred in Philip Glass’s opera Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera. We checked in with Costanzo to find out what’s on his daily to-do lists.
What tops your recent Spotify playlists?
I’ve been cha-cha-ing away the quarantine blues with the Touched By an Angel star Della Reese. I had no idea until recently that she was one of the most vocally charismatic jazz singers of the 20th century! For example, check this out!
What podcast are you into right now?
While my go to is NPR and their incredible Corona virus coverage, including their amazingly informative (and concise) daily podcast on it, I have been revisiting Starlee Kine’s underrated and utterly joyful podcast called Mystery Show. The episode about Brittany Spears will make you laugh AND cry.
What book is on your bedside table?
There’s a large stack at the moment, and on top is Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.
Do you have a go-to cookbook? Or, any guilty-pleasure snacks?
I have become enamored with Bon Appetit, not only for their magnetic team of YouTube stars, but also for their practical, impeccable, and delicious recipes. That’s my online cookbook of the moment. But rest assured, I always have my Martha Stewart tome nearby so I can feel bad about all the details I’m skipping.
Do you have quarantine buddies?
I have such a wide array of succulents and cacti reaching for the sun as eagerly as I am, and they keep me company.
What’s your quarantine schedule?
I get up between 9:00am and 10:00am (this is early for an opera singer, so you’re welcome), and usually spend a good hour on the phone trying to reach unemployment while I prepare and eat breakfast. I always vocalize and practice for at least an hour if not two, and then exercise for usually 90 minutes with cardio, bodyweight, resistance bands, and a pull-up bar. I take a break to make lunch, and then usually spend from about 2:00pm to 9:00pm writing emails, proposing new projects, producing projects already in the works, and brainstorming with colleagues. That time also includes writing articles; guest teaching; making digital content for arts organizations; and having Zoom meetings, Skype calls, and moments of inspiration and imagining new futures. This is all followed by preparing dinner, chatting with friends, reading, watching a bit of Netflix, and, eventually, analyzing the paint on my bedroom ceiling until late into the night.
How are you continuing your daily practice?
This has been an amazing time to really hone the fundamentals of good singing. Why am I standing like that? Can’t I breathe better? What’s the color of that vowel I’m singing? Classical singing is such an intricate craft, and running from opera house to concert hall, learning music right and left, can result in leaving important details behind. Hitting this giant pause button has given me a chance to go back to the intensity of work I did in early on in my career and really make sure my house is in order.
What are you most looking forward to when things get back to normal?
Hugs! I suppose the right answer would be singing in a theater to thousands of people, or making great art. But the truth is, I want to hug my parents, hug my friends, hug my colleagues, and take that love onto those stages and share that with an audience.
Want more? Follow @SpoletoFestivalUSA on Instagram for more Spoleto at Home content and to see a special shout-out from Anthony. Be sure to visit his website at anthonyrothcostanzo.com for updates. Follow him on Instagram at @arcostanzo.
Photo at top: Anthony Roth Costanzo during Spoleto Festival USA’s Bank of America Chamber Music series in 2019; by William Struhs