Anthony Roth Costanzo & Justin Vivian Bond to Present ‘Only an Octave Apart’

By David Salazar

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and trans-genre artist Justin Vivian Bond will team up for “Only an Octave Apart” at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York starting on Sept. 21, 2021.

The duo met over 10 years ago when the countertenor caught a performance featuring Bond at Joe’s Pub. He would later perform as a guest in Bond’s subsequent show. Since then, the two have sought ways to combine their distinct styles into a unique concert experience. This opportunity presented itself during the COVID-19 lockdown and put together a unique program of repertoire than includes arrangements of such works as Purcell’s famed “Dido’s Lament,” among others.

The theatrical concert aims to “subvert distinctions between high and low, juxtaposing their vocal ranges, performance styles, repertoires, and degrees of camp.” Audiences will be exposed to expressions of queer identities through a wide array of music genres.

“Opera may now be perceived as normative and elitist, but it has a wild lineage as both an interdisciplinary and popular, zeitgeist-driving form—not to mention one whose popularity was rooted in the sex-symbol status of castrated men. What I have always tried to do, and what I think this show can excel at, is to drop some breadcrumbs for people who are a gateway audience,” stated Costanzo in a press release.

“Cabaret is really intimate and spontaneous and dangerous because you don’t know what’s going to happen, whereas opera at its best is very calculated. There are so many people onstage that every piece of the puzzle has to fit perfectly. So in our work together, Anthony and I get to bring elements of both of those things so it loosens up the opera part a bit and recontextualizes it and, for me, it gets me into a more formalized, practiced way of performing. I think it brings out the best, and something new, in both of us,” Bond added.

The showcase, which runs through Oct. 3, 2021, will be directed by Zack Winokur and led by conductor Thomas Bartlett.