Yet working together isn't always a paradise. "The cons are dealing with stuff in the workplace that you try not to bring home," said Costello, who calculates that he and Pérez work together about 40% of the time. "If you're both having unpleasantness in the same production, then you go home that way. Whereas if you're each doing something different, there's less chance of that. There's double stress when you're working together."
These pros and cons are a balancing act for partners soprano Patricia Racette, who sang the lead in Britten's "Turn of the Screw" at L.A. Opera last season, and mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton, who have been together since the late 1990s. Though they met while performing Verdi's "La Traviata" in Santa Fe, N.M., they have subsequently worked together infrequently.
"It's a casualty of our repertoires," Racette said by phone from Seattle, where she just finished starring in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." "There aren't that many roles that are right for us together. It would be very interesting to do Strauss' 'Rosenkavalier' with Beth, but I don't think that's repertoire for me. And Puccini was not very kind to the mezzos."
Racette maintains that gaining employment in the same productions isn't really the issue. "Our challenge is not so much to work together but to be together," she said. "We call it 'wife-ing.' It's not easy to pick up and pack and take care of the dog and get your house set up all by yourself while you're meeting new people and learning a new production. So it's great to have help — and we both like to cook."