rita costanzi

A Score to Settle: Rita Costanzi

 

"There doubtless have been evenings with a pianist who intertwines a narrative with keyboard playing, but as far as I know, there is nothing remotely like the tour de force that harpist-actress Rita Costanzi pulled off in her "A Score to Settle" at Boston Conservatory Thursday night... "

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Selections from A Score to Settle:

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"We were fortunate to be able to book Rita Costanzi's A SCORE TO SETTLE at our new Cabaret space.  The show is very funny and Ms. Costanzi is a commanding stage presence and a world class harpist.  Our audiences simply loved it. It was a refreshing and unique night of theater."  

Randall Kramer, Artistic/Executive Director
MusicalFare Theatre
Amherst, New York

 

"Rita Costanzi held an audience entranced....One of the most incredible harp players I have ever been privileged to see."

Jessica Cornish
Review, Melbourne, Australia

 

A SCORE TO SETTLE: A MONODRAMA ABOUT A HARPIST AND HER SEDUCTIVE SLAVEDRIVER  

 "There doubtless have been evenings with a pianist who intertwines a narrative with keyboard playing, but as far as I know, there is nothing remotely like the tour de force that harpist-actress Rita Costanzi pulled off in her "A Score to Settle" at Boston Conservatory Thursday night.  Talking- or acting- while playing the harp is extremely challenging, as it really helps to look at the strings (not the audience) and to make sure your pedals (which are in charge of chromatic changes) are doing what they should be doing- hard enough without being a highly verbal drama queen. The monodrama "A Score to Settle" opens in a darkened room (Seully Hall unfortunately did not provide the intimate nightclub atmosphere this piece needed) and Ms. Costanzi established her Serious Harp Credentials in a masterpiece for harp by Gabriel Fauré, "Une Chatelaine en sa Tour"....

Costanzi does a fabulous Carmen-plays-the-harp, as she puts her foot on the soundboard (you have to be quite fit to do this!) takes the clip out of her unruly long curly hair, and plays "Malaguena" with her heel doing a tap dance.   She trills and bats her eyes (which have a personality of their own).   But what makes this show extraordinary is not only the quality of Costanzi's acting, but her exquisite harp playing, which I (and the many harpists in attendance) found compelling and beautiful. ...  In "Requiem," one of several pieces she has composed for this show, Costanzi trills on two strings and sings into the back of the harp.  Her compositions are quite accomplished; I loved her "Homage to Piazzola."

"A Score to Settle" debuted in NYC in October 2011.  Costanzi's collaborators are director Arthur Masella and writer Kico Gonzalez-Risso, who wrote two dramatic monologues for Costanzi ("Harp and Solo," which premiered in New York in 2009, and "A Score to Settle,"  which premiered in 2007 in Vancouver).  While "A Score to Settle" is still a work in progress, I think this team appreciates  Costanzi's multiple (manifold) gifts and that they are very much on the right track.  

Her new life as a harp-playing actress seems to be working just fine, and I hope she and her show find a home off-Broadway. 

Susan Miron, Artsfuse.org

 

New Direction and Staging:

In collaboration with Hal Prince's long time Associate, Arthur Masella, Rita Costanzi premiered a new Hybrid Monologue/Concert Version of "A Score to Settle" at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival in August, 2010, receiving a huge standing ovation and much acclaim. Though not reviewed, Actor Richard Hanna pronounced it: "Sensational! Beautifully written, sensitively played and exuberantly performed."  Viewers have described it as "Hilarious, Sensuous, Entertaining, Engaging, Compelling and Deeply Moving!"

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Ottawa International Chamber Music
Festival: A Score to Settle
August, 2010
Photos: Bill Blackstone

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Reviews & Acclaim for Rita Costanzirita constanzi

July 19th, 2012 , ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NORTHWEST

GUITARIST, HARPIST LIGHT IT UP
by CHRISTOPHER KEY

String theory

...Once the ladies had been revived, it was the gentlemen’s turn to be enraptured. Festival favorite Rita Costanzi performed another Rodrigo composition, Concierto serenata for Harp and Orchestra. Costanzi is a superstar of the harp, having been principal harpist for the Vancouver Symphony and the CBC Radio Orchestra. She has performed all over the world and it is a tribute to the reputation of the Bellingham Festival of Music that she returns here year after year. Her mastery of her instrument is such that she held the audience spellbound with her obvious passion for the music...Costanzi has spent some time in Brazil and her encore highlighted that experience. I didn’t catch the name of the composer, but it highlighted a facet of the harp that was anything but angelic. Yes, the harp can be downright sexy. Sorry, guys. She’s married.

 

Sunday, July 11th, 2010 ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NORTHWEST

CHAMBER CONCERT ENHANCES SURROUNDINGS
by Christopher Key

Harpist Rita Costanzi led off the program with Mikhail Glinka’s Variations on a Theme of Mozart in E-flat, G.vi13. It’s undoubtedly trite to refer to harp playing as angelic or heavenly, so how about this: she’s a helluva harpist. In my admittedly limited experience of watching harpists, they have always seemed a rather laid-back bunch. Not Costanzi. She’s passionate about the music and her instrument and is not afraid to show it in her body language. She had the crowd mesmerized by the end of the first two bars and never let them go. The crowd was not inclined to let her go, either.

It’s a good thing that she came back for the second work in the program, a relatively new composition by Michael Cohen. Costanzi and the composer obviously connect on a deep level and he was in the audience to cheer her on. The harpist was joined by flutist Christina Smith, oboist Joseph Robinson and cellist Steven Thomas for Cohen’s Aria for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harp. The composition is very dramatic and I kept thinking that it could be the soundtrack for a film. Unfortunately, there are no filmmakers I am aware of who could create something remotely worthy of this exquisite piece of music. That is probably a good thing in the long run. The images it creates in our minds are incapable of being captured on film.

 

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“HARPIST BOWLED LISTENERS OVER”

If you weren’t completely bowled over by Rita Costanzi’s playing with the Calgary Philharmonic Wednesday at Singer Hall, then you weren’t paying attention or you weren’t there.

Too bad. Hundreds were present and in rapt concentration as this spirited musician played the music of Handel and Somers. The evening’s first surprise was the sound of Costanzi’s instrument. It’s been so long since the Philharmonic showcased a guest harpist that the dynamic and timbral range she evoked was initially fascinating in itself.

But musicianship was the real key to the player’s success. She plays Handel boldly, phrasing in an individual but always tasteful manner. We’ve all heard countless performances of this work, yet I don’t recall any other imbued with such impressive warmth and animation.

Eric Dawson
Calgary Herald
Feb. 4, 1993