“No make-up!”…Stephen Costello

foto Ken Howard

Which is the main feature of your personality?
My main personality feature is that I want to make everything work and also  have everyone happy.  I am slowly finding out I cannot always make that happen, but I try to when possible.
Your worst flaw?
Procrastination! Now that I have said it in the open,  I feel better.
Which is your star sign?
Are you superstitious?
I can be very superstitious especially before performances.
Which are your favorite readings?
I just revisited “Moby Dick” because of the new opera Moby  Dick composed by Jake Heggie,  with libretto by Gene Scheer , in which I was given the honor to sing the role of Greenhorn (Ishmael).   The novel is a complete master piece which one can read again and again and each time find new relationships and more detail each time you do so.  I also love  “The Catcher in the Rye” . I would be thrilled to play the character of Holden Caulfield in an opera one day,  if such is ever composed.

Which is the book you have loved the most so far?

“The Catcher in the Rye”
Did your family influence your choices?
My family didn’t influence my choices,   but truly encouraged them.I remember listening to my Uncle Tom in my Grandparent’s basement playing the piano and rehearsing songs he was going to sing with his band later that week.  So I guess,   in some way,   that influenced me to become more interested in music.  I really always enjoyed both playing and listening to classical music.
Was music a vocation?
Yes, music was a vocation.  I believe we are all born to do something and for me it was to have a career in music.  I enjoy singing all types and would be very unhappy if I didn’t have music in my life.  
What’s missing in your life today?
Children !  I would love to have children, but with my career and my wife’s as well,  it is not the right time at the moment.   We will soon though.  I look forward to the day.
The greatest disappointment?
My greatest disappointment was not getting to really know my Grandfather Costello.  I know he was a great man, but he died when I was nine and I can only learn of him through family stories.
Which is your most cherished memory?
My wedding day.
How important is money to you?
Money is important in every household.  It isn’t more important than family and happiness, but in reality we need money to help build better futures for our families.   In my career if I have the chance to work with an outstanding conductor,  highly regarded artists or be part of an amazing creation like Moby Dick, then money comes second.  I will do everything I can to make it work.  It is important for me to have great artistic experiences.  Hopefully, the money will come later.
Which is the item you like spending money on the most?
My career. It costs a lot of money to travel back and forth and live in places for months at a time.   Of course, like all men,  I enjoy electronics and cars, but I have to think of the future.
Do you collect anything?
I collect movies. I love watching and buy movies. I can watch all of my movies over and over again.  I enjoy the talent and artistry of actors like Jimmy Stewart and Tom Hanks.
Do you have a recurrent dream?
Yes!!!!  That I am about to perform Tamino in The Magic Flute and I never learned it.  That usually means I need to get to work on something coming up.
What are you afraid of the most?
Disappointing the people around me.
Which is your most ambitious dream?
To be in a movie;  I have always dreamed of being in an Academy Award- winning film.
The moment you felt the proudest?
Watching my wife sing Juliette in Salzburg.  I will always remember that moment.
Your biggest challenge?
Saying No!
What or who makes you feel embarrassed?
Forgetting someone’s name.  It is the worst feeling.
Which is the situation you consider the most relaxing?
Sitting on my couch watching movies.  That is relaxing.
Your favorite subject at school?
My favorite subject was always music.  I could connect with what we were discussing in class and I was always interested and never bored.
Favorite city?
My favorite city is Philadelphia. That is where my home and my family are.  It is also full of history and a one hour train ride to New York City where I have many friends.
Favorite color?
Favorite flower?
“Birds of Paradise”.
The holiday or the trip you’d like to take?
Walt Disney World.  It is the happiest place in the world! I would also like to visit Egypt as I really want to see the Pyramids up close.
Day or night?
Which is your hideaway?
Sitting in a movie theater all day watching films and keeping my phone turned off.
The film you love the most?
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” . Jimmy Stewart is amazing in that film.  What a brilliant display of acting !
Your favorite season?
Summer!  I love swimming and having BBQ’s with family and friends.
How would you define your relation with food ?
A love and hate relationship.  I love food and can easily overeat, which makes my body hate me the next day.
Your favourite dish?
It’s a toss up between pizza or cheeseburgers.
The dish you cook the best?
Steak on the grill. I love to grill and have friends over to share it with.
Red or white wine?
What’s never missing in your refrigerator?
Diet Coke!  Everyone has an addiction and mine is Diet Coke.
What’s your weakness in kitchen?
Eating the food as I am cooking.   I always fill up while cooking,   so that  after everything is ready to be served,  I am no longer hungry.
Your favourite singer?
I have many favorites:   Luciano Pavarotti,  Franco Corelli,  Jussi Björling, Frank Sinatra, Dave Matthews. I could go on for hours,  but I will stop there.
How did your voice change through the years and how do you take care of it, choosing the roles and the repertoire to perform?
My voice is getting fuller and more rounded.  I take care of it by getting enough rest and taking care of myself and my body, and not being too busy while I am in rehearsal or performing .   As someone once told me,  just because you can sing a role,  it does not mean you should.  It is important to choose the roles that will help your voice grow and be strengthened,  while also teaching yourself how to keep the technique solid.
If you were granted the chance to choose a role, which one would it be?
Roméo in Roméo et  Juliette which  I could sing at the drop of a hat and Otello which I will probably never sing,  but I can dream, can’t I ?? 
Which is the first record you ever bought?
Michael Jackson’s  “Thriller”.
How’s your attitude towards TV ?
I love TV.  It gives you a chance to zone out and not think of anything for a little while.  It lets your mind relax after a long day.  
What do you do an hour prior to going on stage?
Warm up and stretch the voice.   
What’s never missing in your dressing room?
Water.  I always have to have enough water.   
What do you think of when looking at yourself in the mirror?
How much gray hair is starting to show! I am just kidding. I often look in the mirror and think how lucky I am to be in this career.
How would you prefer to die ?
I would love to die as Roméo died, in the arms of my love.
Your mood at the moment?
I am tired. I have been on the plane for eight hours on the way to Berlin and I need to stretch my legs and get some sleep.  However, I have another hour until I land and then a four hour layover in Zurich to be followed by another two hour flight to Berlin.   So I guess you can imagine my mood.
What’s your motto?
Keep on dreaming and let nothing get in the way of your goal. My father-in- law always says we are not lost,  it is all part of the tour.  I agree 100%. Sometimes life throws you curves,  but that is just getting you to the finish line from another direction.  It isn’t how you get there as long as you are there in the end.