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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Terry gross with fresh air weekend the Philip Glass Opera at Naughton about the Pharaoh who many people now think was gender fluid is about to be produced by the metropolitan movie to win the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival I'm Terry Gross and this is fresh air weaken support for NPR and the following message come from comcast through Internet essentials comcast has connected more than eight million people from low income households to high speed Internet most for the first time time more at comcast corporation dot com slash Internet essentials. Let's get back to my interview with Eddie Roth Costanzo he's a counter tenor means he sings in the range associated with women's voices some of his repertoire from the sixteen and seventeen hundreds music by composers like Handel and Monteverdi was originally written for Kastrati men who were castrated before puberty to prevent their voices from Deepening Costanzo also sings contemporary music and is about star in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Philip Glass's opera at Naughton about the Egyptian Pharaoh who is married to Nefer Tedi I think a lot of people you know think that Noton might have been trans and I think he believed that divinity was a combination of the kneeling female which in ways not an unusual thought but why do people think in retrospect that he might have been trans well you know it's so interesting I when I I was studying not everyone in text referred to him as a Hermaphrodite and so I was talking to all these egyptologists says I was researching the role and I went to Oxford we're Richard Parkinson agreed Egyptologist and his colleagues met with me and I said was he really a hermaphrodite did he both body parts and they said well he's always depicted with these very big hips and full lips and and almost breasts so that's why people think that but they posited this other theory which is that he saw God as the unification of man and woman not not a man or a woman and he wanted to be closer to God and the ancient Egyptians You know invented waxing and all kinds of other distortions of the body so could he not have changed himself either surface way or perhaps more profoundly to be Between men and women and I thought that was so interesting of course what we call that today what feels very clear to us as trans we don't know how they thought about it but I do think of him as the first trans icon and very fluid and that's really represented in our production of Oxycontin at the met where I enter completely stark naked probably the first full frontal male nudity at the Met and it goes on for quite a while in slow motion six minutes so you see this very male figure emerge and then over the course of the opera I kind of transform in to someone with these more feminine features and More Feminine costumes yes more Feminine costumes but also I wear he's kind of Gauzy Egyptian linen pleaded robes and underneath them the costume designer Kevin Pollard and the director failure McDermott have chosen this kind of slip that has printed a woman's body a kind of painted woman's body but from far away and even from ten feet away it looks like breasts and and women's genitals sort of and it's not graphic in any way but it is rather very beautiful and so you see this trajectory of John's transformation of thought and also body just tell us a little bit about entering Connecticut you've done this you've done other productions of at Naughton and you've major entrance naked before what is that experience like and are you aware of any body makeup or anything not very much I I there's a little I think oil and occasionally a little bit of shade adding to just help the working out I've been doing furiously for the past three months preparing for it but but when the director asked need to be naked I said well why and he said you know it's going to create this magical effect and in fact we don't do it in a way that insatiable in that kind of run stage with everything flapping all over the place but rather I'm revealed and I walk with such slow intensity and keep in mind I shave my head entirely like you know with a bic razor and and wax my entire body because the Egyptians thought hair was disorderly.