Following chart-topping debuts in the U.K. and Germany, The Maltese Tenor, Joseph Calleja's third solo album for Decca Classics, will be released in the U.S. on Monday, October 24. To coincide with the release, Joseph Calleja will appear that same evening in concert at New York City's hip downtown club Le Poisson Rouge at 7:30pm; the performance will be webcast live via video stream on the NPR Music web site: http://www.npr.org/music/. The concert will feature Calleja-along with surprise special guests-performing selections from the new recording, in which the 33-year-old tenor sings some of the best Italian and French arias in his repertoire: "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca; "The Ballad of Kleinzach" from The Tales of Hoffmann; arias from La bohème, Simon Boccanegra, Faust, Manon, The Pearl Fishers, and more.
Many of these arias he has sung onstage at the Metropolitan Opera, in performances that had the New York Times praising Calleja's "ardor, stamina and poignant vocal colorings." NPR Music will offer a preview of the album when it streams The Maltese Tenor in its entirety on NPR Music's First Listen series during the week before the CD's release date.
When it was released in the U.K. over the summer to coincide with Calleja's BBC Proms appearance, The Maltese Tenor instantly became a bestseller, debuting in the number-one spot on the U.K. specialist classical chart and prompting appearances for Calleja on British television programs such as BBC Breakfast and The Andrew Marr Show.
Hugh Canning, reviewing the CD for the Times of London soon after its European release, offered detailed praise: "Calleja sounds at his vocal peak on this [disc] ...His is a bright, warm, unmistakably Mediterranean timbre, with a distinctive quick vibrato that recalls great tenors of the wind-up-gramophone era. Yet he is a thoroughly modern musician ... His "Che gelida manina" is surely the most glamorous and thrilling on disc since Pavarotti's famous complete recording, but it is no carbon copy. The following "O soave fanciulla", with Kurzak, is goose-pimple-raising stuff, too. The promise of his Des Grieux...is irresistible; ... [His is a] youthful, virile, ardent voice ... In short, a golden-age voice in its prime."
In his review of the disc for the Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen wrote: "Calleja commands resinous, vibrant tone with a rich top register and generous, open-hearted style. This is technically sturdy singing with guts and heart." In Germany the album debuted as the top-seller in the classical vocal category, and in the number two position overall on the German classical chart (surpassed only by crossover star David Garrett's new release, Classic Romance). The North German broadcasting network NDR made the disc its album of the week, praising its "intelligence and taste" and the way Calleja's voice "flows freely and easily as it climbs the highest heights."
Watch Joseph Calleja's recent appearance on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show:
To visit the album's microsite and to watch the EPK, go to http://www.deccaclassics.com/html/special/calleja-maltesetenor/.
Blessed with a golden age voice that routinely inspires comparisons to "legendary singers from earlier eras: Jussi Björling, Beniamino Gigli, even Enrico Caruso" (Associated Press), Joseph Calleja has become one of the most sought-after tenors on both sides of the Atlantic. After performing three leading Italian roles at the Metropolitan Opera last season-Rodolfo in La bohème, the Duke in Rigoletto, and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor-Calleja returns to the Met this season to sing the title role in a new production of Gounod's Faust, performing January 5 through 19. Joseph Calleja is one of three star tenors to sing the role at the Met this season (the other are Jonas Kaufmann and Roberto Alagna).
In addition to the concert at Le Poisson Rouge, Joseph Calleja performs repertoire from The Maltese Tenor in concerts in Paris, Munich, and Vienna later this autumn. He takes part in performances of Verdi's Requiem in Cologne, and on December 8 appears with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Stockholm, a performance which will be broadcast on international television. Returning to the opera stage at the end of the year, the tenor sings Nadir in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Following his turn in Gounod's Faust at the Met at the beginning of 2012, he returns to Europe for the title roles in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux at Munich's Bayerische Staatoper, and Mascagni's L'amico Fritz at the Frankfurt Opera. In the spring, in a highly anticipated return to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Calleja sings Rodolfo in La bohème. It was after a Covent Garden performance as Alfredo in La traviata that the Times of London declared: "The Maltese tenor's beautifully rounded voice oozes old-school class-he's shiveringly good," while the New York Times agreed: "He is the real thing, a tenor who naturally combines plaintive sound with burnished intensity. He sings with heart and intelligence." Calleja rounds off the season with a concert at the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen; singing Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor in a return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin; and appearing once more as Rodolfo at the Munich Opera Festival.
Born in Malta in 1978, Joseph Calleja began singing at the age of 16, inspired by the film The Great Caruso starring Mario Lanza. After singing in his church choir, he began formal training with Maltese tenor Paul Asciak. Calleja made his professional debut in Malta in 1997 as Macduff in Macbeth, and later that year won an award in the Belvedere Hans Gabor competition, launching his international opera career. He went on to win the 1998 Caruso Competition in Milan and was a prizewinner in Domingo's Operalia the following year.
The Maltese Tenor
U.S. Release on October 25, 2011
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1824)
Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica
1. Act I, Aria: "Che gelida manina" (Rodolfo)
2. Act I, Duet: "O soave fanciulla" (Rodolfo, Mimì)
with Aleksandra Kurzak soprano