Anthony Roth Costanzo Buffs Up and Bares All at ENO

03.07.16
Anthony Roth Costanzo
WQXR

"Ultimately as opera singers we’re human beings and that’s what's most interesting to look at on stage: the human beneath the voice and beneath the performance, and I think it comes across," Anthony Roth Costanzo says from a London hotel room following his opening night triumph as Akhnaten in Philip Glass's opera of the same name.

Before he debuted the role, Costanzo, one of the world's premiere countertenors, went on a weeks-long physical and mental transformation. Not only did he change his diet (carbs were swapped for fruits and veggies) and amp up his exercise routine, he also shaved his head and waxed his entire body, as he prepared to show the full monty on stage. He spoke to us about the measures he took.

"(Director) Phelim McDermott said a few things to me on the first day of rehearsals, 'First of all I think we want you to do this naked scene; we’d like you to shave your head and to be sort of Egyptian the way that they were thought to be; and we want you to wax your entire body.' I thought, 'Oh gosh,' and I said, 'Well what about a bald cap? Wouldn’t that look just as good?' He said it’s not really so much how good it looks, because we can make everything look great from the stage, it’s about the psychology. And he told me that when Richard Croft was doing the production for Satyagraha at the Met and the ENO, the day he shaved his head to play Gandhi it really transformed the performance." Read the rest of the review here