Perez flew to San Francisco for a to-be-televised La Traviata. Costello went to Montreal for Lucia di Lammermoor and on to Italy for Gianni Schicchi. After spending nearly 24 hours in transit, he met her June 30 in San Francisco. From there, they vacationed in Las Vegas. And after Sunday?
"I go to Santiago, Chile, until Aug. 31 and he leaves for London Aug. 28 or 29 [to record Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix]. So we'll miss each other," she says. "But I'll be in Berlin in September, and then give a recital in London on Oct. 15. I guess I'll try to hang out in Europe to do more auditioning and see if I can meet him in London."
There's another complication: "We have a dog [named Tequila]. . . . She travels with us pretty much everywhere," says Costello. But when restricted by hotel policies or overseas travel, the white papillon stays in New York with their mutual manager, Neil Funkhouser.
Nobody said that families - artistic and otherwise - need to be in one place. Their AVA musical mentor, conductor Christofer Macatsoris, joined them in Las Vegas for coaching and sightseeing at the Grand Canyon. In Ocean City, they'll be conducted by Bill Scheible, Costello's trumpet teacher at Washington High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
To that cozy circle they'd love to add conductor Yannick Nzet-Sguin, a prime candidate for the Philadelphia Orchestra music directorship, whom they came to know and adore last summer in Salzburg when Perez sang Gounod's Romeo et Juliette under him. They'd enjoy having him in close proximity. "He loves singers," she says. "He wants your voice to soar."
Such anchors are needed for the somewhat surreal life into which they've parachuted. Perez, 29, only graduated from AVA in 2006 and Costello, 27, in 2007. Already, she has ridden with Andrea Bocelli on his private jet (she did a brief tour with the pop tenor). Costello once bumped into the celebrated tenor Matthew Polenzani, who rhapsodized at length about the Don Giovanni production he was singing, and then, curiously, ended the conversation saying, "Maybe I should get sick so you can sing it!"
Maturity, boundaries and perspective appear to be the primary keys to making their lives work. When singing together in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in Detroit, the pressure to perform was such that they asked for separate hotel rooms, just for a day or two, to make sure they got the rest they needed. But when intersecting briefly after an absence, they don't go into overdrive making up for lost time. They veg on the sofa and watch a movie on the wide-screen TV in their Locust Street apartment.
No surprise that they seem like everyday people. Costello found his voice in Washington High School choirs and, when discovered by Scheible, in early gigs with the Ocean City Pops, where he's sung for the last decade. Perez recognized her talent in high school musicals on Chicago's South Side, where she grew up, and eventually studied with the celebrated Virginia Zeani at Indiana University.
They knew each other as AVA students for a few years before dating. One evening, she was depressed after a breakup and he asked her to go salsa dancing - even though he doesn't know how. The turning point came when she had offers that would take her away from Philadelphia but chose to stay for him.
"I didn't then know the certainty of our relationship, but finding love like that is something everybody dreams about," she says. "And I can't sing without being happy."
They're both committed to a home base in Philadelphia. When Costello is gone, Perez calls on his extended family for help with any problem. Though the Philadelphia apartment can be a pit stop for dumping suitcases and packing clean clothes, they sometimes come back to find the place anonymously tidied up.
They know how lucky they are. So does retired soprano Evelyn Lear, who was married for 55 years to her singer/husband, bass Thomas Stewart, who died in 2006.
Lear's advice is typical, but with a twist that comes with opera's late working hours: "Never go to bed angry," she said by phone, "even if it means staying up all night. Very often, we did that."
She and Stewart critiqued each other's performances; Perez and Costello can't go there, even tactfully. His wife's vocal condition, says Costello, "is what coaches are paid for" and not his business. That attitude relieves any pressure that might come up while singing at home.
"I want the freedom of knowing I can practice and he won't critique me," Perez says.
But then there was that rehearsal when they couldn't get their cadenza in sync. Mediation was required. "I think I'm doing it correctly, she thinks she's doing it correctly, but one of us has to be wrong," he says.
"Then we find out that I'm right," says Perez.
Yet to come is the pleasure of killing each other onstage. Lear got to do that in the title role of Tosca, when she stabbed the evil Scarpia, played by her husband. Says Lear, "It's fun as long as it stays onstage."
The biggest challenge, perhaps, is coping with career downturns. During a brief vocal crisis, Lear discovered the phone was always ringing for her husband rather than for her. Perez and Costello have seen star colleagues abruptly fall from grace. Costello had barely made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2007's Lucia di Lammermoor when opera chat rooms started sniping at his having put on a pound or two. "For every one person who likes you, there are two who don't," he says.
Perez and Costello aren't cast together as often as one might think. Operas often have two casts; they aren't always in the same one. Last summer in Salzburg, where they were in the same festival with different operas, Perez had the lead in the second cast of Romeo and Juliette while Costello was in the first cast of Verdi's Otello in the secondary role of Cassio.
That was a high-pressure period. She was finding new ways of working under Broadway stage director Bartlett Sher while he was submitting to the strictness of conductor Riccardo Muti - all exciting, but they could've used the moral support of being in the same cast. Besides, Perez prefers singing opposite her husband, though she isn't sure how much the feeling is mutual.
"You can say 'no,' " she said. "It's OK."
He puts it differently: "The better she does, the better I do."
Contact music critic David Patrick Stearns at email@example.com.