Wayne Koestenbaum and Anthony Roth Costanzo

In this episode, writer Wayne Koestenbaum and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo talk about fables and necromancy, expressions of queerness and the overvaluation of talent, and how to create the ‘sous vide effect’ for an audience.

Wayne Koestenbaum’s latest book, The Cheerful Scapegoat, is now out with Semiotext(e).

Anthony Roth Costanzo’s second album, a collaboration with the trans-genre artist Justin Vivian Bond, is coming out this fall on Decca Gold. Next season, he returns to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten

Artists On Writers | Writers On Artists brings together luminaries in the fields of art and literature to have the conversations they themselves wish to have. This bi-weekly web series is a joint production of Artforum and Bookforum, and is sponsored by the Morgan Library & Museum.

Wayne Koestenbaum—poet, critic, novelist, artist, performer—has published twenty-one books, including The Cheerful Scapegoat, Figure It Out, Camp Marmalade, My 1980s & Other Essays, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Humiliation, Hotel Theory, Circus, Andy Warhol, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award). In 2020 he received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired his literary archive in 2019. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center. 

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo began performing professionally at the age of 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, film, and on Broadway. His debut album, ARC, on Decca Gold was nominated for a GRAMMY Award.Costanzo has appeared with many of the world’s leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera (most recently in the title role of Akhnaten), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Dallas Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Spoleto Festival USA, Glimmerglass Festival and Finnish National Opera. In concert he has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed at a wide-ranging variety of venues including Carnegie Hall, Versailles, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Minamiza Kyoto, Joe’s Pub, The Guggenheim, The Park Avenue Armory, and Madison Square Garden.

Costanzo is a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and won first prize in Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in a Merchant Ivory film. He has begun working as a producer and curator in addition to a performer, creating shows for the New York Philharmonic, National Sawdust, Opera Philadelphia, the Philharmonia Baroque, Princeton University, WQXR, The State Theater in Salzburg, Master Voices and Kabuki-Za Tokyo. Costanzo graduated from Princeton University where he has returned to teach, and he received his masters from the Manhattan School of Music where he now serves on the board of trustees.