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Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo on Bringing His Queer Authenticity to Akhnaten

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Akhnaten, Philip Glass’s opera about another queer radical who happened to be a ruler of ancient Egypt. Timed with the opera’s run, Costanzo chats with The Advocate about representing queerness in the past and the challenges of protecting our authentic identities in the future.Growing up the son of psychology professors at Duke University, Costanzo was fortunate to have supportive parents who championed self-expression and encouraged him to accept his queer self.

But he’s aware of the importance of role models, noting that he gets “so many letters and notes from the queer community and people who are really happy and inspired by the way I make [my queerness] a part of my art making and a part of my mission as I make art.”Rihab Chaieb as Nefertiti and Anthony Roth Costanzo as AkhnatenCurrently, Costanzo is inspiring and wowing audiences in Phillip Glass’s third opera, Akhnaten, at the Metropolitan Opera.

This production is a revival of the hit 2019 production starring Costanzo. The Metropolitan Opera’s recording of Akhnaten (also starring Costanzo) recently won the 2022 Grammy for Best Opera Recording.

Akhnaten tells the story of 13th-century B.C. revolutionary Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaten (also known as Amenhotep IV), who abandoned Egypt’s traditional religion of polytheism (multiple gods) in favor of monotheism (one god).

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