March 10, 2011

Lucia di Lammermoor | The Metropolitan Opera, 2011


February 25, 2011

Tenor Joseph Calleja, in his third leading role at the Met this season, sang an Edgardo of exceptional elegance. In their Act 1 love duet, his honeyed tones blended beautifully with Dessay’s leaner sound. When he burst into the wedding scene to denounce Lucia for betraying him, his singing was anguished without ever turning strident. And Calleja was at his best in the final scene, when Edgardo pours out his grief in a heartbreaking two-part aria, before stabbing himself so he can join Lucia in death. This was golden age vocalism, pure and simple.

David Belcher, February 24, 2011In Calleja, Dessay found a singing actor whose potency equaled hers. Calleja’s young, crystalline voice seemed to lift the quality of Dessay’s — her lower register has never been her comfort zone — in their duets, particularly in “Verrano a te sull’aure,” which ends Act I. Their voices were exquisitely matched — the vocal antithesis of the contrast between his massive frame and her gamine petiteness.Calleja’s passionate, pure singing was matched by that of baritone Ludovic Tézier, whose rich vocalism and powerful acting turned Lucia’s scheming brother Enrico into an almost sympathetic character. At the tomb scene near the opera’s end, Calleja delivered “Fra poco a me ricovero” as if it were Edgardo’s own mad scene.


February 25, 2011

The performance also included the first Met Edgardo of tenor Joseph Calleja, who won a warm reception from the audience. Tall, and ardent in voice and manner, he brought an emotional charge to Edgardo music, especially his curse of Lucia. Still, the quality of the voice will not please everyone. Though vibrant and plenty strong, it lacks ring and resonance, and sometimes its fast vibrato can intrude. But debate over these issues goes back at least as far as the days of Fernando de Lucia and will be ultimately resolved by listeners in their own way. In any case, Calleja’s Edgardo has much to recommend it.


February 25, 2011

And Joseph Calleja was sensationally ardent as Lucia’s lover, Edgardo, one of the best roles of his young, exciting Met career. In so many productions, the tomb scene that ends the opera seems hopelessly anticlimactic after Lucia’s unraveling, but in this performance Donizetti’s structure finally made sense. It felt more like Edgardo’s tragedy than Lucia’s, so why not let him have the last, gorgeously eloquent word?

It was another good night for tenors, with the Maltese-born Joseph Calleja singing an ardent, musical Edgardo, rising to great heights in his final scene.


March 3, 2011

On an evening overflowing with vocal exuberance, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja was an excellent Edgardo, betraying great lyricism and artistic sensitivity. Every note he sang turned into gold and he bombarded the audience with such vocal resourcefulness, with such an expressive voice. His aria “Tombe degli avi miei” was one of the magical moments of the evening and for which he deservedly received acclaim, a triumph that lasted until his impassioned “Tu che a Dio spiegasti l ali” – not suited anyone suffering from a heart condition.



March 13, 2011

Joseph Calleja as Edgardo had a very different sort of triumph. I’ve heard Calleja over the radio, but last time it was the first time I heard him in the house. There are certain singers where it’s impossible to talk of them without raving about being floored waves of sheer sound. Usually, people will say about those singers, “If you didn’t hear them live, you didn’t hear them, period.” In the past, people spoke that way about Nellie Melba, Kirsten Flagstad, Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli. Nowadays, they talk of Anna Netrebko that way. To that list of singers, I’d add Joseph Calleja. His voice is like how a tenor sounds in one’s dreams, but rarely does in reality — a bright, warm, ringing voice, with the honeyed sweetness of Gigli. His tight but controlled vibrato reminds me of Bjoerling. He even looks a bit like Pavarotti before the waistline explosion. The role of Edgardo is a deeper, richer role than the Duke (Calleja’s most frequently sung role at the Met), and its high tessitura holds no terrors for him. He is one of the few tenors to take both “Tombe degli avi miei” and “Tu che a Dio spiegasti l’ali” at score pitch. The radio gives really no idea of the impact of Calleja’s voice on the ears — this is a big, versatile lyric tenor voice. Calleja isn’t just sonic overload though — his phrasing is musical and stylish, with the kind of old-fashioned deployment of rubato and portamento that a lot of tenors eschew today. Calleja is tall and imposing onstage as well, and when he wrapped the tiny Dessay in a big bear hug, I sighed with happiness, not just at the golden sound, but at how Calleja and Dessay both used their voices for dramatic effect — a shy, reserved girl from an unhappy family has found much-needed security in a strong authority figure. “Verrano a te” became not just a love duet, but a snapshot of a very realistic courtship. Calleja dominated “Chi mi frena” as his voice sailed above the ensemble. The best news? Calleja is only 32, and I hope his best years are still ahead of him.


March 20, 2011

Joseph Calleja […] was the best I’ve ever heard him. Romantic, impetuous and heart breaking, Calleja was vocally certain through the whole show even fleshing out some of the less intriguing passages in the opera like the opening of Act III.


March 19, 2011

Calleja was particularly impressive in his Act III arias: “Fra poco a me ricovero” and “Tu che a spiegasti l’ali” where his grand style vowel colors and elaborate phrasing brought the opera to a powerful close.

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?