Press

July 11, 2010

Boccanegra | Royal Opera House, July 2010

FIONA MADDOCKS, THE OBSERVER

It is typical of Domingo, always fully committed to the dramatic as well as musical aspects of any work, to select Verdi’s most recondite opera – which even the composer initially found too gloomy – for this daring adventure. The performance was slow to ignite. Marina Poplavskaya’s Amelia sounded out of sorts in her wistful Act I aria, “Come in quest’ora”, with the sound of the sea rippling its barcarolle in the woodwind. But the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, making his debut as Adorno, which Domingo himself has sung so many times, set all ablaze with his ardent voice, the tone supple and flexible. 
Hearing Domingo united with, and inevitably overshadowed by, his own younger voice type was strange and touching. Inevitably, because the tenor voice is a showpiece instrument, at its best in those highest notes which require superhuman effort and create a sound beyond normality. It is why the tenors get the girls. Baritones, instead, when they’re not villains, provide wisdom, subtlety, richness of human spirit. Their vocal range is more akin to the spoken voice and their great solos go beyond heart to soul. 

HUGH CANNING, THE SUNDAY TIMES

After a raw-toned start, Poplavskaya settled down to deliver soaring lines and exquisite pianissimi, while Calleja’s Adorno sported the most glamorous tenor here since Domingo himself sang the part in 1997. His aria brought the house down. There were two Adornos on stage, and two Boccanegras: the veteran Jonathan Summers, a Doge down the road at the Coliseum during the Powerhouse era, returned, still in ringing voice, as Paolo Albiani, Boccanegra’s henchman and eventual poisoner, a role he first sang at the house 30 years ago. A great night for the veterans, then: in fact, a triumph for all concerned.

NEIL FISHER, THE TIMES OF LONDON

“In the tenor role of Adorno, the fabulous Joseph Calleja, a protégé of Domingo, made me think not of his elder co-star but more of a young Pavarotti: in his care, the future of tenor singing looks pretty rosy.”

BARRY MILLINGTON, THE EVENING STANDARD

“The tenor role of Gabriele Adorno, which Domingo would normally have sung, is taken by Joseph Calleja. There is a trace of a beat in his voice, but his ringing high notes also won the hearts of the audience.”

MICHAEL CHURCH, THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

“The action then jumps forward 25 years, and he becomes transformed: now he has the demeanour of a king worn down by office. The unfolding revelations of the second act, with the lustrous Marina Poplavskaya as his long-lost daughter, and the vibrant Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja as her lover, become a drama ennobled by the sheer goodness Domingo projects. In the great council scene he becomes the voice of peace, stilling an angry mob, then pronounces a thunderous curse on the former ally who will kill him.

As the plot winds towards its terrible denouement – of retribution, reconciliation, and the passing on of the torch – it is clear that there are three heroes in this production: Calleja, Furlannetto and Domingo – with Domingo wearing the crown. Stumbling and struggling to breathe as the poison in his veins takes hold, his leave-taking wrings the heart, with his last words sounding like a benediction from the grave. Long may he continue to triumph.”

ERICA JEAL, THE GUARDIAN

“But the biggest cheer during the actual performance goes to Joseph Calleja, singing Domingo’s old tenor role of Gabriele Adorno with an ardent intensity that caps anything else he has done here.”

ANDREW CLARCK, THE FINANCIAL TIMES

” Joseph Calleja contributed a thrilling Adorno.”

SIMON THOMAS, WHAT’S ON STAGE

“With so much darkness Boccanegra can sometimes feel pitched at one level and one of the strengths of the casting is the balance of voices, from Ferruccio Furlanetto’s velvety basso Fiesco (a terrific battle of giants in his encounters with Domingo) to the light, bright tenor of Joseph Calleja, reminiscent of the young Jose Carreras, who was almost peerless as Gabriele Adorno. Jonathan Summers, a little raddled of voice these days, is a petulant and maundering Paolo and adds another layer of baritonal sound.”

GRAHAM ROGERS, CLASSICAL SOURCE

“With so much darkness Boccanegra can sometimes feel pitched at one level and one of the strengths of the casting is the balance of voices, from Ferruccio Furlanetto’s velvety basso Fiesco (a terrific battle of giants in his encounters with Domingo) to the light, bright tenor of Joseph Calleja, reminiscent of the young Jose Carreras, who was almost peerless as Gabriele Adorno. Jonathan Summers, a little raddled of voice these days, is a petulant and maundering Paolo and adds another layer of baritonal sound.”

EMILI J. BLASCO, ABC CULTURA

“Joseph Calleja really stands out in the role of Adorno, the leader of the revolt and Amelia’s boyfriend, daughter of Boccanegra.”

GEORGE HALL, THE STAGE

“Nearly stealing the evening is Joseph Calleja as Gabriele Adorno – Domingo’s former role. Taking on a heavier assignment than he has sung hitherto, Calleja proves himself a match for it and supplies the most exquisite singing of the evening.”

EDUARDO SUAREZ, EL MUNDO (Spain)

“Domingo was accompanied by an extraordinary cast last night. The first, the tenor Joseph Calleja performed the role of Gabriele Adorno, which Domingo once interpreted on the same stage. There is nothing in his voice or his presence to be criticized in the young Maltese tenor, who emerged unscathed from the analogy with the teacher and received generous applause from the audience in Covent Garden.”

MARK RONAN’S BLOG

“The acting of Domingo, Furlanetto and Poplavskaya was simply wonderful — I cannot imagine better. Add to that the singing of Joseph Calleja as Amelia’s beloved Gabriele Adorno, and this was a terrific cast — Calleja sang like a god.”

RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN, THE TELEGRAPH

“If one was ruthlessly marking on points, one might judge him outclassed vocally by Ferruccio Furlanetto’s imposing Fiesco or the gloriously youthful tenor of Joseph Calleja. But if some of Domingo’s old power has gone, and the finesse with it, the peerless nobility and sincerity remains.”

 

Joseph's Blog

May 16th, 2016

Quo Vadis Eurovision and other stories

Malta did not win the Eurovision but lo and behold the sun still rose and the island (the center of the known universe) still spun…

My two cents is that Ira Losco gave a really good performance and that the whole presentation was excellent. She shouldn’t have performed cause she is pregnant? Come off it – I have performed repeatedly with pregnant opera singers well into their 7th and 8th month of pregnancy and trust me when I say that rehearsing and performing for a full opera production is much more physically demanding than a couple of days at the Eurovision. Of course there are those who know much better than the undersigned and who went on to say that the presentation was a tad “camp”…oh the irony when one considers that the Eurovision is the campest of them all.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be Malta and the Eurovision wouldn’t be the Eurovision unless its politicized to the exhaustible hilt. The inevitable “mud slinging competition,” which we will see a lot of in the coming 22 months, ensued and even yours truly (inexplicably) ended up in the midst of the fray, in yet another “supernova” in a tea cup. The Eurovision suddenly became an interchangeable bullet to be used ad nauseam by both sides much like bitter parents who use their innocent children during disputes.  I have always found sycophants interesting, even amusing but they will not be getting the much desired Streisand effect from me, thank you very much. It is part of human nature after all to conjure conspiracies and we are not going to let the simple truth get in the way of some exciting and convenient fiction.

Speaking of “conjuring” is it me or is a company advertising real estate using a chap “connected” with the tragic and unnecessary death of an underage girl? It must be a clone or a”doppleganger”, otherwise this would be the epitome of bad taste and a 100 shades of wrong. Don’t get me wrong I am all for “second chances” and all of that but shouldn’t there be due process first? After all Lisa Marie didn’t get a second chance did she?