Opera Philadelphia Picks A New General Director

Developed with David Devan and Opera Philadelphia, Costanzo said he raised about $1 million to produce “Glass Handel.”

“I say I’m a producer and people are always, like, ‘What does that mean for an opera singer?’ Costanzo said. “It is arts administration. I do all the budgets. I put everything together. I raise the money for all the projects that I’ve created, and I put the creative teams together.”

“Of course, this will be a different level of arts administration,” Costanzo said of his new job.

Costanzo, 41, has a history with Philadelphia going back almost 30 years. His first appearance at the Academy of Music was in 1996 at the tender age of 14, performing the Shepherd Boy in Puccini’s “Tosca,” in a traveling production created by Luciano Pavarotti.

Anthony Roth Costanzo, Opera Philadelphia’s new general director is pictured with Luciano Pavarotti. The photo was taken in 1996 when Anthony was 14 years old and appeared for the first time onstage at the Academy of Music, as part of a Pavarotti touring production. (Opera Philadelphia)

Most recently, he performed in Philadelphia in 2019 as part of “Late Night Snacks,” a rotating series of performances created by Opera Philadelphia and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret.

“Opera Philadelphia feels like a second home to me already,” he said.

Ferguson believes Costanzo’s position as an internationally recognized performer will give him unique advantages as a fundraiser and leader.

“I’m a huge sports fan, right? He’s in the game,” he said. “There are certain things you see as a player that aren’t necessarily clear as a coach. You’re seeing minute by minute, play by play, and you’re able to pivot and create in really fresh ways.”

Costanzo will be filling the shoes of Devan, who built Opera Philadelphia’s international reputation as an innovative company committed to producing new work, particularly by artists not often part of the traditional canon, such as Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ writers and composers.

Anthony Roth Costanzo appears in a M&M's commercial.
Anthony Roth Costanzo appears in a M&M’s commercial. (YouTube)

Costanzo intends to keep that company on that course.

“The structures that pervade opera are sometimes considered elite or inaccessible. I think we need to rethink those structures,” he said. “I think what I can bring to Opera Philadelphia are some strategic partnerships and some collaborations that do, in the words of our board chair, a kind of ‘radical unscaling,’ which is to say taking opera to new frontiers outside of the opera house in exciting and innovative ways.”

Costanzo has already dipped his toe into this kind of “radically unscaling” on television. Last year he appeared in a commercial for M&Ms when a new purple-colored candy was introduced. The celebrated opera singer appeared briefly as a singing potted plant.

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