Few instruments are as viscerally associated with the idea of grace and beauty as the harp, and few are as apt to express a sense of yearning as the oboe. So what could possibly capture the feeling of love better than a duo composed of these two instruments? Possibly nothing, as harpist Rita Costanzi and oboist Alex Klein rivetingly demonstrate on AMOROSO, an archetypally romantic album of intimate chamber music. Well-known classics by Debussy, Fauré, Massenet, Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, and Rodrigo shine in a new light, and two new, fittingly romantic pieces by contemporary composers Michael Cohen and Michael Amorosi perfectly complete this wonderful picture.

Today, Rita is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn how she exhibits artistry in all aspects of life, and why she’s called “The Biscotti Queen of the Bronx…”

Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?

Cellist Jacqueline Du Pre and my Beloved Father, Violist Francis Tursi.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I believe that one is born an Artist and that expresses itself in who one is and all one does from childhood on. Whether I wrote a letter, wrapped a gift, baked a cake, cooked a dinner, or played my harp – artistry was evident. To this day, when I do not have a concert performance, my artistry is channeled into elegant gourmet dinner parties (the lace cloth, china, crystal, flowers, silver), hand-written letters and notes on beautiful, French stationery with dried flower seals, creative writing, and making biscotti as gifts for friends: three flavors: white chocolate/lemon, Grand Marnier, Orange/Chocolate and Almond/Chocolate. Yes, I am “The Biscotti Queen of the Bronx!”

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

My most unusual performance was when I soloed with Oregon Ballet and had to climb a ladder 10 minutes into the performance (Lady MacBeth-Style!) and play very difficult contemporary dance music (composed for me) on a scaffold with the dancers swirling below me! I did not dare look down. I prayed I would not faint! Absolutely terrifying….

What is your guilty pleasure?

My two greatest pleasures are strong Italian espresso and rich milk chocolate. I feel absolutely no guilt – only passionate enjoyment!

Oh, all right, as a student in Paris I indulged in smoking Gitanes — the most delicious guilty pleasure I can imagine! This blend with Turkish tobacco is TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!! :)

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

My favorite musical moment on the album was the Rodrigo En Aranjuez con tu Amor, which Alex arranged for us at my request. This hauntingly beautiful melody always captivated me, and I was thrilled to be able to finally play it. Alex did an incredible transcription… well. ok. The harp part DID need a bit of “fixing,” but I believe the result is gorgeous and just what I wished for!

What does this album mean to you personally?

As a true artist and soul-child I will be frank that recording albums is not a favorite pastime. Live concerts are…. In this case, when Alex approached me saying, “Rita, I want to record a CD with you,” I could not refuse. Producing this album, I realized, would be the greatest gift of gratitude I could give to him for so many years of absolute bliss — performing and teaching at his FEMUSC Festival in Brazil. From the moment we first collaborated in 2007, we experienced a soul resonance and profound musical/expressive synergy. I always remembered my father’s words: “You can count on one hand the number of true, effortless chamber music collaborations in a whole lifetime.” He was right. Performing with Alex has been the highlight of my chamber music career. We feel the music together. We breathe together. It is AMOROSO – an artistic love affair in music. It is my deepest joy and privilege to offer this to the world….

Explore Rita Costanzi’s Latest Release

AMOROSO - album cover


AMOROSO is available now from Navona Records. Click here to visit the catalog page and explore this album.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the artist and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions held by PARMA Recordings LLC and its label imprints, subsidiaries, and affiliates.