It might sound like an unlikely coupling, a world-famous opera singer and a cabaret legend described as the “the best cabaret artist of [their] generation”, but Anthony Roth Costanzo and Justin Vivian Bond really do bring the magic to the stage in their two-person show ‘Only An Octave Apart’, which is currently playing at Wilton’s Music Hall.
‘Only An Octave Apart’ is a juxtaposition of styles in every way possible, vocally, stylistically, and creatively, the pair (with direction by Zack Winokur) have created a fluid and yet genuinely sincere 90-minute musical extravaganza that is truly charming, and that burrows deep to warm the soul.
For those unfamiliar with the two performers, Bond, is a pioneer of alternative live performance, a true diva, a legend, with a smoky and inviting tone. Costanzo is a powerhouse countertenor who has led performances at opera companies around the world. With Thomas Bartlett’s brilliant music direction, arrangements by Nico Muhly and musical direction by Daniel Schlosberg, the set list is perfectly curated, combining classical jazz, opera, and musical greats with popular and rock hit remixes. The selected songs take the audience on an unconventional and yet beautiful musical journey, interspersed with well-rehearsed, and sincere anecdotes and stories which allow the pair to share their friendship and bond with the audience in a way that feels intensely intimate.
This seems a like a highly unlikely coupling, but ‘Only An Octave Apart’ is a show of genuine contrasts, and a joyous celebration of what it means to be different. Costanzo is a master of his trade, and his version of “Über allen Gipfeln Ist Ruh” (written by Franz Liszt from poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) along with “Deh Placatevi” (from Orfeo ed Eurydice, written by Christophe Willibald Glucka) are simply breath-taking. Coupled with a more modern repertoire by Bond, such as Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” and “Walk Like An Egyptian” by Liam Sternberg, at times, both voices appear to collide, at other times they blend in perfect harmony. What is clear though is that, at all times, the effect is truly seductive. It works excellently on every level and is entirely inspirational in its messaging.
‘Only An Octave Apart’ is highly recommended. It is showing at Wilton’s Musical Hall until Saturday, 22nd October, and tickets are available here: https://wiltons.org.uk/whatson/753-only-an-octave-apart
Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin
Reviewed: 30th September 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★