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November 20, 2015

Winter highlights in Berlin, Moscow, Düsseldorf, London, and Chicago


Following a highly-acclaimed role debut as Boito’s Faust in the Bayerische Staatsoper’s company premiere of Mefistofele, Joseph Calleja looks forward to operas and concerts in the US and Europe in the coming months.

The Maltese tenor returns to Germany for a concert at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf on December 18, which is preceded by a gala at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on December 13.

December 20 finds Joseph in Malta for his annual Christmas concert to benefit the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation, given at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in San Pawl tat-Targa. The event marks Joseph’s third annual holiday concert in his home country.

Joseph begins 2016 back in Berlin at the Staatsoper im Schiller Theater where he sings Rodolfo in three performances of La Bohème January 8, 16, and 19. Following a concert at the Southbank Centre in London on January 22, he then returns to the United States for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera of Chicago, February 22 through March 8.

Click here for Joseph’s full schedule.

November 10, 2015

Bayerische Staatsoper’s sold-out Mefistofele, starring Joseph Calleja, webcast live on November 15

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On November 15, the Bayerische Staatsoper webcasts its sold-out run of Mefistofele, starring Joseph Calleja as Faust, on Staatsoper.TV. The company’s premiere of Boito’s grand take on the legendary deal with the devil marks the Maltese tenor’s first time in the role, which has been met with tremendous acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

In Roland Schwab’s production, Joseph stars opposite René Pape in the title role and Kristine Opolais as Margherita. Omer Meir Wellber conducts.

To view the free livestream, tune in here at 7:00 pm CET on Saturday, November 15.

(Photo: Wilfried Hösl)

November 6, 2015

Joseph Calleja triumphs in role debut at Bayerische Staatsoper


Joseph Calleja’s first performances as Boito’s Faust in Mefistofele have earned the Maltese tenor acclaim from audiences and critics:

“Dafür singt Calleja, wie man es sich hinreißender nicht vorstellen kann. Wenn er den Mund aufmacht, scheint es, als ob auf der Bühne das Licht angeknipst wird. … enormer stimmlicher Präsenz, wachsweichen Phrasen, musterhaft entwickelten Höhen, mit einer einsam leuchtenden vokalen Qualität.” (Merkur)

“Toll ist auch Joseph Callejas Faust, alles klingt fein und dynamisch.” (Deutschlandradio Kultur)

“Für das Himmlische an diesem Abend ist Faust zuständig – mit der Stimme von Joseph Calleja: Leichtigkeit, Eleganz und Leuchtkraft, Sicherheit und endlose Bögen – Joseph Callejas Tenor hat alles. Er liebt und leidet. Calleja spielt kaum, aber das schadet nicht an diesem vor Aktionismus überschäumenden Abend.” (Bayerische Rundfunk)

Mefistofele continues at the Bayerische Staatsoper through November 15, with the final performance webcast via the Staatsoper’s website.

Joseph also earned acclaim for his recent concert at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper on November 3, which ushered in the 2015 European Central Bank’s Kulturtage, which was this year dedicated to Malta.

“Weich bis in die Spitzen sind seine hohen Töne, gut gemacht sein Einsatz der Kopfstimme, und nachgerade großartig seine Ausgestaltung des „O figli, o figli miei!“ aus Giuseppe Verdis „Macbeth“ – der Oper übrigens, mit der er als 19-Jähriger auf der Opernbühne debütiert hatte. Ohne jeden Druck in der Stimme, offenbar mit riesigen Reserven. Nicht einmal bei der obligatorischen „O sole mio“-Zugabe mit ihren üblichen „wer kann länger“-Spielchen schwillt ihm die Halsschlagader. Gesünder kann man das nicht singen.” (Frankfurter Rundschau)

(Photo: Wilfried Hösl)

Joseph's Blog

November 15th, 2015

Men in Black

Men dressed in black shooting indiscriminately, young people fleeing in terror, some leaving trails of blood behind them – broken bodies dangling from windows three stories above the street. People fleeing and trampling over the dead trying to escape the line of fire… Is this the latest Dan Brown novel? No, this happened yesterday in Paris and was the second attack in less than a year.

I sometimes get the impression that the majority of people have become desensitized to footage of fellow human beings being slaughtered in the middle of a major European city. Modern technology allows us to video people trying to flee whilst the terrorists take pot shots at them. One such video showed a young man limping leaving a trail of blood behind him, another was very bravely pulling along the body of another of the fallen. Young women were hanging from windows by the tips of their fingers and others were crying for help in the most unimaginable distress. When exactly will enough be enough?  Not since World War II has there been a time when Europe needs to stand united and legislate new laws that give utmost protection to the bona fide immigrants and take to task those who are here just to incite violence, thinking that they can impose their archaic and often barbaric way of life upon us Europeans. Some might argue (at least in the case of France) that the hatred is born and bred at home and the attackers might be holding French passports. Well in the latter case new laws have to be passed with haste to allow the government to strip citizenship and take all the necessary precautions and actions to extrapolate these evil human beings from society permanently. Something has to change and something has to give but will it?

Nor is it a problem exclusive to Europe. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq etc. and no these acts are not less serious because they happen to happen “there.” Scores of videos showing decapitation of anyone who doesn’t agree with their barbaric ideology, children shot point blank and/or buried alive, the rape of countless women, the selling of young girls in slave markets and all this in 2015. Need I continue? Isn’t it high time that the Western World takes a no nonsense approach and sends a clear message to the perpetrators and those who support them. Yes we do know who they are. We have known for years but they are “allies” so we cannot really do anything about it or so we think. Just google Clinton Wiki Leaks and those who are uninformed are in for quite a nasty surprise. Then again I might be out of my depth discussing the above – I am sure there are those who will say as much and they would probably be right. However there is one thing I know very well – our entertainment. We do take the latter very seriously in the West and it is ingrained in our culture…

Many will ask  why I am bothering to write “off topic” and how this is relevant to classical music. Oh, but it is very relevant and this recent attack could indeed mark the end of live performances, theatre, cinemas etc. Hyperbole? Think about it – how many attacks will it take in Europe for people to start avoiding theatres, stadiums and restaurants? Few other venues lend themselves better to be used as a platform for mass carnage than a space where hundreds of people sit in close proximity to each other whilst they enjoy themselves with their guard let down. Make no mistake, these terrorists new exactly what they were doing and they drove the stake right at the heart of one of the world’s most beautiful cosmopolitan cities. I am afraid to say that if such an attack would happen in Malta it would wipe tourism out for months if not years, crippling the industry altogether. Globally change for the worse has already happened. How many opera productions were modified, changed or dropped altogether because it “might” offend some minority or other? I am also guilty of the latter – in the 2012 proms I wanted to dress as a Knight of Malta but had second thoughts after someone pointed out to me that it would be seen as a provocation by some since it evoked memories of the crusades! For crying out loud,  it is the year 2015 and some living with us in the streets of London and Paris seem to think that the price for Blasphemy should be death – think Charlie Hebdo and the Scandinavian incidents. A simple youtube search will serve you with an alarming number of results of some of these “protests” and some of the “messages” conveyed during such rallies.

What is sure is that something  has to change and something has to give. We can’t ignore helping the genuine refugees who are fleeing this exact same massacres in their troubled lands but we can’t continue to succumb to pressure to give up our way of life or our own security at the same time. It is a very tough act to balance. A no nonsense approach with  people who refuse to integrate or are trouble makers strikes me as a very civil, fair and logical solution to the plight Europe is facing.  Yes, we need to take serious action against those who hate our way of life and we would have the full support of the real Muslim moderates who are escaping that way of life anyway. Think of the Australian model – they seem to handle this nonsense in a concise and strong way.

Priorities must be put in the right order. Mediterranean is in turmoil  with scores of men, women and children drowning and washing up on beaches, hundreds of thousands fleeing persecution and certain death from countries like Iraq and Syria, the ever growing threat of global terrorism and an ever growing dangerous far right movement in the Western world, yet what some want us to worry about in Malta is whether a Muslim woman can wear a “Niqab” or “Burka” in public. This mollycoddling and fake liberalism has to stop. These absolutely ridiculous requests and expectations have to be ignored and focus must be directed to the issues that matter.

I am inclined to think that a family of refugees fleeing the threat of beheadings, rape, slavery and wanton murder would not be concerned about Christian symbolism such as Father Christmas, Baby Jesus and the occasional cross. It is neither racist nor bigoted to be proud of our way of life. We don’t have to change for anyone and the real, moderate Muslims will appreciate and embrace the new culture that took them in and they will be thankful that they are in a safe place where they can go about their business in peace.