Anne-Sofie von Otter and Anthony Roth Costanzo • Alice Tully Hall • March 12 2019

What a fascinating evening. Nicolas McGegan is a wonderful conductor who lets the music breathe. After the overture, Anthony sang Inumano Fratel, followed by Stille Amare. Anthony knows how to create a moment onstage – and sustain it. He is the perfect example of a performer who “cracked the code.” He moves in a deliberate way, gives every moment a nuance. Once the aria was overshoe turned into a coy young boy who smiles sweetly. Rapturous applause. Then Miss von Otter males her entrance. The timing is slightly off because the audience is still applauding Anthony and the conductor, not seeing that she has already started to make her way to the center, motions to him to come and take another bow. This visibly and understandably throws her for a moment, and a shadow of mild indignation creeps over her face. Is that kid mopping. top the stage? Her first aria, Will the Sun Forget to Streak, by Purcell, is pleasant enough but rather subdued, and the audience’s response is a bit tepid. The it’s Anthony’s turn again with Vivi, Tiranno. Bang. This time, von Otter is present on stage, sitting on the far right, so she can witness what he is doing, probably for the first time. She sits very erect and fully alert, realizing she is up against a force of nature she did not expect. She must crank up her own performance to match it. As she takes back the stage, she motions to Anthony, who has taken to his seat on the far left, with a gesture that is intended as one of encouragement (yeah, you go, boy!) but inadvertently changes to become a shaking fist that literally declares war – albeit without rancor. In her next aria, she is making some bold choices pushing her boundaries, going our of her comfort zone. It works in her favor. Digging into her chest of experience and mastery, she finds her footing, listening to herself for a moment as if to check it and finding that she is up to the task. When Anthony joins her for their Purcell duet, Welcome as the Dawn of Day, it is she who sets the tone. What is written as a tender love fest between a king and queen greeting one another becomes a cat-and-mouse game where we cannot tell who is the hunter and who the hunted. A ping-pong game.No blog is drawn. Gradually, they find the pleasure in it and camp it up. Anthony is game but he is also smart enough to understand the hierarchy between them, respecting her senior status. For the encore, they take this even further: she makes an allusion to his diminutive stature next to her height, playing with her fingers on his head (still nearly hairless from the shaving he got in London to portray Glass’ Akhnaten). Not missing a beat, he reacts to this by throwing himself at her, then realizing that his head is now literally wedged between her breasts, which makes him recoil ever so slightly. Risky stuff but great fun. To quote a line from Judy Garland in A Star is Born: “But it’s all the game, and the way you play it. “ In short, Anthony was born in a trunk. He has theater in his blood.