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Joseph Calleja returns to Met in Gounod’s “Faust” Jan 5

Joseph Calleja, the 33-year-old Maltese tenor who finished 2011 with a top-ranked solo album (The Maltese Tenor) and a Grammy nomination for his recording of La traviata with Renée Fleming, will ring in 2012 with a return to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role in Gounod’s Faust, opening January 5. Calleja is the third of three leading tenors to take on the character in Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff’s new-to-the-Met production this season (the two who have preceded him are Jonas Kaufmann and Roberto Alagna). With Ferruccio Furlanetto as the devil and Marina Poplavskaya as Marguerite, Calleja, “one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today” (Associated Press), will give five performances (Jan 5-19). Last season, he took on three signature roles at the Met: Rodolfo in La bohème; Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor; and the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, the role in which he made his house debut in 2006. On the same stage, he debuted in the title role of Bartlett Sher’s new production of Tales of Hoffmann, where he “gave his all, singing with ardor, stamina, and poignant vocal colorings and winning a rousing ovation” (New York Times).
The Maltese Tenor, Calleja’s third album with Decca Classics, debuted in the US in October at the number one spot on the Billboard Classical Traditional Chart – having topped similar lists in the UK and Germany earlier in 2011. At year’s end, it made both NPR Music’s list of “50 Favorite Albums of 2011” and NPR Classical’s list of “10 Favorite Albums of 2011.” Said the NPR reviewer: “It’s rare these days to find an opera singer with such an individual sound that you can identify him or her in just a couple notes. Tenor Joseph Calleja, from the tiny island of Malta, is just such a singer. You can hear the golden Mediterranean sunshine in his voice, and I love his old-fashioned fast vibrato, which flickers like a vintage silent movie. Calleja … is arguably today’s finest lyric tenor and in this, his third recording for Decca, his voice is even bigger and richer than in his equally superb earlier albums.” Recorded in Geneva with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marco Armiliato, the album includes Puccini arias from Tosca and La bohème, and arias from Gounod’s Faust. Also included are love duets from La bohème and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, for which Calleja is joined by soprano Aleksandra Kurzak.
The chart-topping success of The Maltese Tenor was closely followed by Calleja’s first nomination for a Grammy Award, which he received in the category of Best Opera Recording for his portrayal of Alfredo in the Royal Opera House’s production of La traviata. Recorded in the summer of 2009, the Opus Arte DVD features opera luminaries Renée Fleming as Violetta and Thomas Hampson as Germont. In its review of the opening night at Covent Garden, The Times of London proclaimed, “The Maltese tenor’s beautifully rounded voice oozes old-school class – he’s shiveringly good.” The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on February 12.
These year-end accolades coincided with Calleja’s December 8 performance with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, in the Nobel Prize Concert held annually before an audience that includes the Nobel Laureates and the Swedish Royal family. Only artists of the highest caliber are showcased; most recently, they were violinist Joshua Bell (2010) and pianist Martha Argerich (2009). As this year’s guest star, Calleja sang arias by Verdi, Puccini, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Pietri, Mascagni, and Leoncavallo in Stockholm’s Concert House.
Following his engagement in Faust, Calleja returns to Europe for title roles in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper 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, he sings Rodolfo in La bohème. 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.
Joseph Calleja: 2011-12 engagements
Jan 5, 9, 13, 16, & 19
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Gounod: Faust (title role)
Feb 1, 5, 9, & 13
Munich, Germany
Bayerische Staatsoper
Donizetti: Roberto Devereux (title role)
March 11 & 12
Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt Alte Oper
Mascagni: L’amico Fritz (title role)
April 23
London, UK
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Insight Event
April 30; May 3, 5, 8, 12, & 17
London, UK
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
May 26
Copenhagen, Denmark
Tivoli Theatre
Gala concert
June 8 & 14
Berlin, Germany
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (Edgardo)
July 17 & 20
Munich, Germany
Munich Opera Festival
Puccini: La bohème (Rodolfo)
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© 21C Media Group, January 2012

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