Australian Cypriot Con Costi presents musical

Constantine Costi uncovers the emotional layers using humour and musical storytelling in Long Lost Loves (and Grey Suede Gloves); a one-woman show he wrote and directed, set to tour nationwide this February and March.

Presented by Musica Viva Australia and featuring mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley and Australia’s acclaimed pianist Michael Curtain, the production weaves together William Bolcom’s cabaret songs.

The collection of “scattered stories about love and loss” aims to explore life’s complexities, the nuances of love, and the significance of living in the present moment.

“What I love about Bolcom’s cabaret songs is that on the surface, they’re really entertaining, and funny. They’re lively, they’re catchy, and they musically have this very offbeat quality that keeps your toe tapping, but you’re still guessing,” said Costi to Neos Kosmos.

Intrigued by Arnold Weinstein’s libretto, Costi was captivated by its collection of “darkly comedic short stories with surprising twists,” which excited him due to their “vibrancy and creativity.”

The Greek-Cypriot director reveals that the show’s concept came about, when Artist Director of Musica Viva, Paul Kildea, expressed interest in transforming William Bolcom’s cabaret songs, originally written for one woman, all into one narrative.

Developing “Long Lost Loves (and Grey Suede Gloves)” during rehearsal.
“I’m a glutton for punishment, and I love a challenge, so I said to Paul, ‘alright, let’s see what I can come up with.’

So, we came up with the idea, of Anna Dowsley inhabiting many characters, to tell these stories.”

Costi described this as his “big challenge.”

“When you’re dealing with all these different pieces that were not meant to go together as a story, how on Earth are you meant to put it together?”

Costi envisioned “George,” one of Bolcom’s most renowned pieces, as the centerpiece of the show, telling the story of a beloved eccentric New York City drag queen whose life tragically ends in murder.

In this concept, Anna is tasked with organising a wake for George.

As the story unfolds, different characters express their conflicting views on George through Bolcom’s songs, leaving Anna caught in the middle, trying to make sense of the situation.

Growing up on Sydney’s North Shore, Costi feels a strong connection to his Greek-Cypriot roots.

He proudly embraces his heritage, and constantly draws inspiration from it.

“There’s nothing, less cool as an adolescent than a big, loud, boisterous family. But as you get older, you realise that you can’t run away from your genes, your culture and who you are. In fact, there’s something to be celebrated.

Presented by Musica Viva Australia and featuring the talents of mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley (left) and Australia’s acclaimed pianist Michael Curtain (right), “Long Lost Loves (and Grey Suede Gloves)” weaves together William Bolcom’s cabaret songs. Photo: Supplied
I like to think that my work as a as a director and a writer, contains, the passion and the excitement and the sense of storytelling that the Greek Cypriot community are famous for.”

After completing his directing course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Costi was given the opportunity to further develop his skills in opera and music theatre directing in Berlin and Vienna.

He underscores the importance of investing in the arts in Australia, seeing it not merely as “entertainment” or a pastime, but rather as “a really important part of society’s fabric.”

“Our political ways of thinking change. Science changes, technology changes. But storytelling is the one thing that is eternal.”

A shot from from the show “II Tabarro” which Constantine Costi directed as part of Sydney Festival. Photo: Supplied/ Jacquie Manning
When & where:
Newcastle 20 February 7:30pm
Brisbane, Powerhouse 22 February 7pm
Canberra, Playhouse 1 March 7pm
Sydney 4 March 7pm
Melbourne 5 March 7pm
Adelaide 7 March 7:30pm
Perth 10 March 6:30pm

Please check the venue in your city when booking tickets.

Picture of Michael Yiakoumi

Michael Yiakoumi

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