a journey to the edge of possibility

The Mysterious Register : A Journey to the Edge of Possibility

90 mins, 4k Dolby Surround

Anthony Roth Costanzo is among a rare group of opera singers who, as countertenors, are able to sing in the same range as a female mezzo-soprano. He has sung a range of celebrated countertenor roles at many of the world’s most prestigious venues including the English National Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera Philadelphia and LA Opera - all the more impressive since he overcame thyroid cancer, with surgery that threatened his voice, to do so.

The film follows Costanzo‘s eagerly anticipated return to the English National Opera headlining in Phelim McDermott‘s Olivier Award-winning , cutting edge production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten to sold out audiences at the London Coliseum and a few months later at the Metropolitan Opera.

The film examines the creative collaboration spearheaded by McDermott over the six week rehearsal period up to the first night, and looks back on Costanzo’s career from his youth, early appearances in film and on Broadway, his introduction to opera, to his development as a counter tenor capable of commanding the stages of the world's largest opera houses.

The history, thoughts, ambitions and insights of the articulate and charismatic Costanzo are explored in a series of intimate, interviews as well as exclusive access to him in rehearsal for Akhnaten and in outreach and promotional activities.

The film also reflects on the history of the countertenor voice from its roots in the singing of 17th and 18th century Castrati in baroque operas – the rock stars of their day - to its present day incarnation in music by modern composers such as Britten and Glass, who have embraced the unique possibilities of the high male voice once described as “The Mysterious Register”.

Costanzo has said “Music written before 1750 or after 1950, that’s my life” and that is reflected in his CD ARC featuring the music of Handel and Glass, which was nominated for a Grammy. Costanzo also explores the question of gender asked about the high male voice and how it relates to his own sexuality.

The film features archive footage from Anthony’s youth, competitions, productions including The Enchanted Island and extracts from James Ivory’s A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries as well as selected moments from Akhnaten at the ENO, both front of house and backstage.

Other footage displays his broader range of talents that include tap dancing and channelling Ethel Merman as well as excerpts from Costanzo’s Princeton filmed thesis project, Zefirino: The Voice of a Castrato and The Double Life of Zefirino, and from his ground breaking operatic art installation Glass Handel, premiered at the Opera Philadelphia Festival in 2O18.

Other contributors to the film include Phelim McDermott and Karen Kamensek (director and conductor of Akhnaten), James Ivory, Michael Pratt (Professor of Music at Princeton), Joan Patenaude-Yarnell (voice coach), Peifen Liu (piano and voice coach), and Anthony’s parents Susan and Philip.

The film is a collaboration between Director Mike Southon and Producer Jeremy Young, based on an original concept by Kate Olver. Mike is a celebrated British cinematographer who worked at the BBC on documentaries and the Arena series, moving on to music videos and feature films. Mike has BAFTAs, a Prix Italia, and MTV awards for his work, and is a Past President of the British Society of Cinematographers.

The Mysterious Register ©2020 An Eclectic Eye Production


Thank you so much for inviting us to share in such a special and splendid evening with you last week for the premier of The Mysterious Register.. The film was magnificent - clearly made with passion and a great deal of knowledge about and respect for your subject. We both enjoyed it ever so much and have talked about it a lot since seeing it. I really hope that someone at the event was persuaded to offer you or help you find enough funding to get it launched and shown publicly, as it deserves.

Vincent & Rebecca Eames

I was completely carried along with Anthony's journey, his story and his passion - the film was absorbing, a true documentary. I do hope it finds a wider audience as it certainly deserves to.

Karol Lange

We both really enjoyed the film. It was a treat to watch on a big screen, totally absorbing with enough humorous moments to feel like a nourishing journey through the making of an opera. Anthony is mesmerising and charming (and a film in himself) but it was your shooting and editing of the scenes with Phelim and Karen to Glass's music that made it such a triumph.

Alison Rooper

Many thanks for the invitation to Thursday night's screening; a great experience in a great venue. The film has so much to say about a range of subjects that it was too rich to absorb fully in one viewing, but we learned a lot. It seemed to me that while the production excavated, interpreted and moulded Glass's work, the film not only documented that process but worked in a parallel way to fashion something very special from the base material. It cannot have been easy to win all that material in the first place but you've done so much more than a simple documentary; in both cases an intense creative process.

Richard Kay

Huge congratulations on the film! I was blown away by the narrative of the piece and loved every minute of it! What you have achieved in no mean feat. I hope you are aware of how many people adored it and I hope you get the support it deserves.

Rhiannon Merrifield

Thank you for inviting me to the screening. It was an honour and privilege to attend. I enjoyed watching the film immensely. It was engaging and told a great story in a very accessible way and I see no reason that it should not be picked up by some broadcasters.

lan Sands

I really felt that, as a film, it was a very powerful description of Anthony as a multi-talented singer and performer and also as an advocate for opera reaching a far wider audience. You and Mike have managed to make a fascinating film. Congratulations!

Annie Owen

What a great evening! The film was inspirational, and the discussion afterwards most illuminating. And most grateful to have been exposed to Anthony Roth Costanzo. What a charistmatic figure. I can quite see him running the Met in a few years' time.

Charles Pickstone

Many, many thanks for inviting us to last night's screening of The Mysterious Register. The film is wonderful, and the more we thought about it and talked about it the more impressed we are. It was altogether a wonderful evening. We hope you find a way to release the film onto some broadly available platform - it deserves to be seen by everyone - particularly in schools and colleges - as well as more general audiences.

Roger and Carolyn Walton

It was a fascinating film, and I hope it gets much wider circulation in due course since it should have much wider appeal than just last night's cognoscenti!

Antony Feeny

I thought the film was amazing. So well thought-out and put together. Anthony is a wonderful person - so thoughtful and generous, as well as being a fabulous sing. I was stunned by the whole thing. A triumph!

Fiona Espenhahn

Just a short email to congratulate you on a really terrific film! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautifully made and witty, of course, but also intriguing and thought-provoking. I thought I knew quite a bit about the subject matter, yet it was full of new insights and, as always, with everything you do, a delight to watch. I just wanted to write and say "Bravo".

Donald Sturrock

Thanks for the Mayfair screening it was a really powerful film and a fascinating story arc from small boy and piano to the ENO. An amazing voice, and I'll have to check out Akhnaten on its next outing.

The Mysterious Register was absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for inviting me. I hope that it has a wider audience. Completely fascinating. He is of course a beacon of hope for opera in every sense of the word, and its future. The film is terrific-engrossing, beautiful, fascinating, and really, really well produced. Makes me feel proud of this art form we love so much and honestly I don't think one says that every day.

Emily Gottlieb

Just to say well done for a great achievement with The Mysterious Register. We thoroughly enjoyed the film and were captivated by Anthony and the whole rehearsal and production process. Obviously an enormous amount of work which thoroughly deserved the great reception last night.

Richard and Celia Manwaring

I hope you go to bed tonight a jolly happy and proud man, because your film SMASHED IT, man! Well done. Would love to talk further about "what's next" with the film, at a convenient juncture. That guy Anthony... fuck man. He's the real deal, right! As for Phelim and Karen. My goodness.... Honest to God. I wanted to know what happened next...

Mat the Tailor

I think The Mysterious Register is wonderfully relatable and offers an honest and personal lens into the operatic world, and would hugely benefit Conservatoire students. I also think it would work really effectively as a gateway for those who haven't experienced opera yet.

Sophie Steers

It was brilliant - I really thought I had a fair bit of behind-the-scenes knowledge about Akhnaten already but I learnt a lot, and was gripped the whole way through. Such a pertinent reminder of why the work that we do at ENO is so important.

Claire Wickes (ENO Orchestra)

international sales enquiries :  jeremyyoung500@gmail.com