On the Couch with Constantine Costi

Constantine Costi AAR On the CouchWho is Constantine Costi?
I am a twenty eight year old director working in opera and theatre. Recently I’ve been the revival director of Opera Australia’s La Traviata.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wish I committed more time to language study. Not only is it a hugely important part of working in opera, but learning a language is such a rewarding way to open up the world.

Who inspires you and why?
Artists who continually challenge and change their style and approach consistently inspire me. PJ Harvey, David Hockney and David Bowie come to mind as artists who have thrown style-shifting grenades at their work throughout their careers. This requires a remarkable amount of bravery and risk, and more importantly I think it reflects a restless spirit that is an essential ingredient within any great artist.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would love to get more young people in the opera and theatre stalls by taking ‘high art’ and approaching it through a lens of relatability and freshness. The stories in opera and theatre, many of which are centuries old, are crucial in understanding our place in the world – and I think engaging with the timelessness of the human experience through the electricity of the live experience could have a huge impact on young people.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’m Greek Cypriot on my father’s side. Cyprus holds a special place in my heart. The smell of concrete, pork roasting over hot coals, and cigarette smoke perpetually hangs in the air. The low warm beaches are incredible, and I am always shocked to discover that a new undiscovered relative seems to be around every corner.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m always excited by Sydney’s sprawling ethnic diversity- best seen in its eclectic collection of ethnic clubs. Many of them serve amazing food, and are also gorgeously frozen in time. Club Uruguayo in Hinchinbrook has an incredible night every so often with Uruguayan barbecue, salsa dancing and a raucous Latino vibe.

What are you currently reading?
The letters between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo. It’s not exactly riveting crime drama, but knowing what we know now about this tortured and unrecognized genius makes simple things like Vincent jumping from job to job all the more poignant. Also their passion for art and literature is staggering.

What are you currently listening to?
Looking at my Spotify now and there’s a lot of Jacques Brel and Nick Cave – I think this is because I’ve been thinking a lot about how storytelling in popular music doesn’t exist so much anymore. Both Brel and Cave epitomize the power of a sung narrative. And course I’ve had a lot of La Traviata blaring in my flat.

Happiness is?
A long boozy lunch with friends.

What does the future hold for you?
My brother Michael is a playwright and my sister Rosemarie is a composer. We have created a new musical based on Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Overcoat. It‘s opening as part of The Belvoir Street Theatre’s inaugural 25a season at the end of the year.

Constantine is the Revival Director on Opera Australia’s production of La Traviata – which will be presented in the State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne: 17 April – 11 May 2018. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Constantine Costi (supplied)