Anthony Roth Costanzo teamed up with an all-star creative team that includes Cecilia Dean, James Kaliardos, Tilda Swinton, Ryan McNamara, and more on his latest project Glass Handel.
Described as a countertenor for the 21st century, Anthony Roth Costanzo is pushing the boundaries of contemporary opera. The composer teamed up with Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos, the co-founders of the fashion and art conceptual publication Visionaire, to present his latest project Glass Handel at the Cathedral of Saint John The Divine in New York on November 26 and 27.
The hour-long live operatic installation premiered at Opera Philadelphia’s O Festival in September. Justin Peck, resident choreographer of New York City Ballet, conceptualized the performance for dancers who will be costumed by Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons. For the scenography, artist George Condo will paint on a semi-transparent scrim in real time to the music while David Hallberg, principal dancer with American Ballet, leads the performance. “Beauty and art, I feel, are really important to creating understanding and empathy,” said Costanzo. “With everything that’s happened now in our world, I feel that those are two really important qualities to try and elicit. I wanted to create something that basically could just engage people in the music in different ways.”
Designed to shake up how we consume opera, performance artist Ryan McNamara has employed “people-movers” to shuffle individuals audience members around the space every seven to 10 minutes. “Anthony’s desire and enthusiasm to bring opera to a larger audience was infectious,” said Visionaire co-founder Cecilia Dean. “He is so plugged in to all the creative industries. He knows dancers and painters and writers. He doesn’t just operate within the world of opera.”
The stellar line-up doesn’t begin and end with the night itself. When the idea of an opera was first proposed to Dean, she wanted to be able to bring the medium out of the confines of a theatre and into the world of online. “The first thing I said was, ‘We have to do opera music videos. You’ve got to do something that can be shared online,’” she recalled. “That’s the problem with opera. There’s nothing to share online. And, now, everything is consumed on our phones.”
Nine opera ‘music videos’ embedded in the installation have been slowly released since the performance first premiered back in September. The videos feature creative mashups between Tilda Swinton , artist Maurizio Cattelan, Italian surrealist photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, and many more, to the music of Philip Glass and G.F. Handel.