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Calleja a “thrilling Adorno” in Simon Boccanegra

Last week tenor Joseph Calleja returned to London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, where he was last seen as Alfredo in La traviata, to take on the part of Gabriele Adorno in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.  Adorno marks the third new role for Calleja in the past year (the others being the title role in Les contes d’Hoffmann and Ruggero in La rondine) and, remarkably for a 32-year-old tenor, the 28th leading role of his career. 

Headlining this production of Simon Boccanegra, which opened on June 29 and runs through July 15, is the legendary Placido Domingo, who has previously been seen by London audiences in the tenor role of Adorno and now returns as the lower-voiced title character.  Domingo has been a mentor to Calleja since 1999, when the young tenor was a prizewinner in Domingo’s Operalia competition.  In a recent interview with The Times of London, Calleja paid tribute to his mentor, describing Domingo as his inspiration since he began singing at home in Malta at age 16.

The critical acclaim for Covent Garden’s Simon Boccanegra and Calleja’s performance has been nearly unanimous.  The Financial Times called Calleja “a thrilling Adorno,” and the Evening Standard wrote that “his ringing high notes … won the hearts of the audience.” The Times music critic Neil Fisher observed that “the fabulous Joseph Calleja … made me think not of his elder co-star but more of a young Pavarotti” and went as far as to say that “in his care, the future of tenor singing looks pretty rosy.” In its review, The Guardian reported that Calleja received “the biggest cheer during the actual performance” and that he sang “with an ardent intensity that caps anything else he has done here.”  The Independent wrote that “Calleja almost steals the show,” and The Stage added that he “supplies the most exquisite singing of the evening.” described his portrayal of Adorno as “peerless” and stated that his bright tenor was “reminiscent of the young Jose Carreras.”

Brits who are unable to catch Calleja in the sold-out run of Simon Boccanegra can watch a live broadcast on BBC 2 television on Saturday, July 10.  There will also be a free live transmission on Tuesday, July 13: the performance will be beamed live from Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House to big screens across the U.K.  On Sunday, 18 July, BBC Proms audiences will see a semi-staged performance of Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Albert Hall.  This performance will be aired live on BBC Radio 3.

After a summer that includes a gala concert with Dionne Warwick and Claudio Baglioni in his native Malta, Joseph Calleja will open the Houston Grand Opera’s 2010-11 season as Pinkerton in a new production of Puccini’sMadama Butterfly by the Tony Award-winning director Michael Grandage.  Calleja makes his Toronto recital debut on November 19, and later returns to the Metropolitan Opera for three leading roles: Rodolfo in La bohème, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, and, opposite Natalie Dessay’s Lucia, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor.  Calleja, who enjoys an exclusive recording contract with Decca, will release an album of Italian and French arias within the coming year.

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Joseph Calleja: upcoming appearances

June 29, July 2, 5, 13, & 15, 2010; London, UK
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (Gabriele Adorno)
Royal Opera House
July 18; London, UK
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (Gabriele Adorno)
BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall
July 24; Floriana, Malta
Gala Concert with Dionne Warwick and Claudio Baglioni

The Granaries
October 22, 24, & 30, November 2 & 5; Houston, TX
Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton)
Houston Grand Opera

November 19; Toronto, Canada
Recital: International Vocal Recitals
Roy Thomson Hall
December 1, 4, 8, & 11; New York City

Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
Metropolitan Opera House
January 11, 15, 18, 22, & 27, 2011; New York City
Verdi: Rigoletto (Duke of Mantua)
Metropolitan Opera House
February 24 & 28, March 4, 8, 12, 16, & 19; New York City

Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (Edgardo)
Metropolitan Opera House


© 21C Media Group, July 2010

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