Joseph Calleja, René Pape, Kristine Opolais
Bayerische Staatsoper (new production)
Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
Roland Schwab, director
Int. release: November 18, 2016
“In the part of Faust, Joseph Calleja comes across as a decent young man who is being gravely led astray by the influence of the diabolical Mefistofele. Through most of the opera Faust is wearing a business suit and white shirt which give him an air of respectability. Calleja has several arias and especially distinguished is his act one aria Dai campi, dai prati tenderly singing of the compassion and integrity of humankind. I also savour his act four aria Forma ideal purissima affectionately telling Elena that she is his perfect woman … the Maltese tenor is in fine bright voice and is noticeably carefully expressing his texts. There is an appealing sweet edge to Calleja’s timbre and he seems particularly comfortable in his top register.”
Michael Cookson – MusicWeb International
“The performances of all the principal members, chorus, ballet dancers, conductor and orchestra are first rate. None of the principals are weak in any way … Joseph Calleja as Faust is also in good vocal fettle … he makes the most of his role and is well cast.”
Jim Westhead – MusicWeb International
“The DVD does record one great thing, and a very great thing it is: Joseph Calleja‘s Faust. Here are ease, shimmer, beautifully sculpted phrasing, all in the service of expression and meaning … when the singing is on this level, it matters less.
I note the date, and I suppose it is not a reach that Calleja’s mind was occupied with things this opera and this production touch upon: youth and age, lessons and wisdom, brotherhood and love. Earlier in the year, his countryman and only teacher, the fine mid-20th-century Maltese tenor Paul Asciak, had died at 92. Calleja and Asciak had been student and mentor from the time Calleja was 15. Even in advanced age, Asciak would travel far to see his star pupil and friend whenever he could, as the younger tenor established an international career.
In 2012, Asciak wrote, “I join the proud people of my native island home, which has already produced other internationally recognized singers, in the hope of the fulfillment of the dream of one day having one of the world’s leading tenors hailing from our land. From the quality of Calleja’s singing in [the Decca album Be My Love] it seems we are not far from achieving this.” Calleja’s Faust has the quality of a promise remembered and kept, the voice glowing and flickering like an eternal flame lovingly tended. Asciak would again have had reason to be very proud.
The productions Herr Bachler’s house presents, at their best, are reasons to keep going to the opera. Performances such as Calleja’s Faust count for even more. They are reasons to keep going.”