Since he was only 11 years old, Anthony Roth Costanzo has been singing professionally and has appeared in operas, concerts, film and on Broadway. Now, the Grammy-nominated countertenor is returning to Charleston for the 6thyear in a row for Spoleto festival USA!
“I love coming to Charleston, I always pick up my red loaner bicycle from my friend, Carolyn Kostopoulos, the head of costumes here (Spoleto), and I ride through this lovely town looking at all the new shops, hotels, and restaurants that have popped up since my last visit. I try and always make it to FIG while I’m here and soak up as much of the local culture as I can!” Anthony says.
“I went two years of high school in North Carolina, and though there were certainly prejudices lurking under the surface here and there. I found a way to be organically who I was, and I found people responded positively to that.” Anthony tells BEAU about living in the south a LGBT youth, “Certainly, being able to share my music was a boon — people were taken aback by my unusual voice, and my commitment to the art form, and because of the strength with which I asserted both, they usually responded with more respect than rebuke.”
Studies show that many LGBT youth use music as an escape from their stressful lives, families, or even bulling they face in schools for being LGBT. Anthony uses his unique voice to liberate his pride! “Singing in a very high voice, as a countertenor, would have been easy to feel self-conscious as I decided that I was gay and worked through what that meant for me personally. However, because of my parents and the nurturing groups I had around me, singing became the opposite of embarrassing, it was cathartic — a way of expressing who I really was. And it still feels that way to me every day.”
“What is more universal than the human voice, and what is more intimate that hearing it live, unamplified, a shooting straight from the heart?”
“Sure, some people don’t like countertenors, and it’s an easy voice to make fun of,” Anthony says when talking about being gay and working in the music industry, “I try and stay ahead of the game and make fun of it myself! I don’t take it all so seriously, I like opera and music generally to be fun, honest and genuine, and part of that is acknowledging how strange it is for a man to be singing in what is usually a woman’s
To those who have experienced Anthony Roth Costanzotalent say he is changing the way we hear music. He is breaking boundaries and changing up gender norms in the music industry. However, there are some people who do not see eye to eye on this. “There will always be different approaches and different attitudes about the best way to move forward. I have worked on Broadway, in film, on the opera stage, in concerts, as a producer, you name it, over the past 26 years professionally. I try and take the sum of my experiences, think about creative and interdisciplinary approaches to growing the art form, and apply those ideas with my own unique artistic stamp and personality. Perhaps most important of all, I try and foster communities, and be a part of many groups in all different industries so I can make connections with people who inspire me, and who are striving to carve new paths. Great art is always created by a community of people working well together; it’s never about one person. If someone has a different approach or a critique of me, I always try and listen to it and think about it because, maybe they are right! If I decide they aren’t, I tend not to feel the need to call them out on it, but rather just refocus on what I’m trying to achieve.”
You can catch Anthony in action during his time at Spoleto festival, and as he says “expect to be pleasantly surprised! expect to be disappointed, confused, and mildly annoyed. “