Stephen Costello

A Te, O Cara: Stephen Costello sings Bel Canto

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Bel canto, or the art of beautiful singing, has had periodic revivals from the 19th to 21st centuries, perhaps most famously in the 1950s with the careers of Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé, and other stars who refreshed the legacy of refined vocal production in Italian opera. Stephen Costello's A Te, O Cara, a 2019 release on Delos, continues this tradition and provides famous examples of bel canto singing from the operas of Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, and Giuseppe Verdi, and demonstrates the variety of approaches that have been historically considered essential to the style. Backed by the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Constantine Orbelian, Costello leans heavily on tenor arias from Donizetti's major works, including La fille du Régiment, Don Sebastiano, L'élisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, La favorita, Anna Bolena, and Lucia di Lammermoor, and offers only single numbers from Bellini's I puritani and Verdi's Rigoletto. Noting the omission of anything by the prolific Gioachino Rossini, Costello nonetheless has chosen representative music of leading composers of the era, and the expected flashes of bravura vocal production, smooth lyricism, and heroic high notes reveal the dimensions of Costello's dramatic intensity and warm expressivity.

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