January 23, 2018

40 Fun Facts About Tenor Joseph Calleja As He Turns 40

Joseph Calleja turns 40 years old today. Born on Jan. 22, 1978, the Maltese tenor has risen to the ranks of being one of the greatest singers in the world today.

In commemoration of his 40th birthday, here are 40 fun facts about this still burgeoning artist.

  1. He was born in Attard, Malta.
  2. He was inspired to sing at the age of 13 by the film “The Great Caruso,” starring Mario Lanza.
  3. In 2012, he released an album dedicated to Lanza, entitled “Be My Love.”
  4. He started singing at the age of 16.
  5. He made his operatic debut at the age of 19 as Macduff in Gozo.
  6. He has won a number of major competitions throughout his career. He was a prize winner at the Belvedere Hans Gabor competition at the age of 19.
  7. In 1998, he won the Caruso Competition in Milan.
  8. And in 1999 he was a prize winner at the Operalia International Opera Competition.
  9. In 2012 he was given a Doctorate of Literature Honoris Causa from the University of Malta.
  10. In 2015, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the European Academy of Music Theatre.
  11. His first recorded release was a performance of “Maria Stuarda” from 2003.
  12. His first solo album “Tenor Arias” was released in 2004 and features arias of Cilea, Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti.
  13. His second solo album, “The Golden Voice,” was released in 2005.
  14. “The Golden Voice” was his first collaboration with Decca.
  15. He has a total of six solo albums, including his recent “Verdi” CD.
  16. The tenor has appeared on solo albums of such artists as Renée Fleming and Angela Gheorghiu.
  17. Angela Gheorghiu also appears on his “Verdi” album, the two collaborating together on back-to-back solo albums.
  18. He has two recordings of “Simon Boccanegra,” one starring Plácido Domingo and one starring Thomas Hampson in the title role.
  19. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut on Oct. 25, 2006 as the Duke of Mantua in “Rigoletto.”
  20. He also made his Covent Garden debut in the same role.
  21. He has a total of 82 performances at the Met.
  22. The role he has sung most at the Met is the Duke of Mantua; he has performed it a total of 19 times.
  23. He performed in the opening night for the Met Opera’s 2017-18 season, his only opening night with the company.
  24. Calleja has appeared four Live in HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera including Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffman,” Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and Bellini’s “Norma.”
  25. He performed alongside Sonya Yoncheva in the final scene of the first act of “La Bohème” at the 50 Years at Lincoln Center Gala.
  26. The Maltese tenor made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2003 as Elvino in Bellini’s “La Sonnambula.”
  27. In 2009, Calleja kickstarted a series of annual concerts at the Granaries in Malta.
  28. He has a total of six Verdi roles in his repertoire, more than any other composer.
  29. He has five Donizetti roles in repertoire from such operas as “L’Elisir d’Amore,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Don Pasquale,” “Roberto Devereux,” and “Maria Stuarda.”
  30. He has five Puccini roles in his repertoire from such operas as “La Bohème,” “Gianni Schicchi,” “La Rondine,” “Madama Butterfly,” and “Tosca.”
  31. He appeared in the film, “The Immigrant,” taking on the role of Caruso.
  32. He is also featured in the film “No Reservations.”
  33. He is the recipient of the 2014 International Opera Awards’ Readers’ Award.
  34. Calleja appeared at the Kennedy Centers Honors awards to pay tribute to Martina Arroyo in 2013. It marked his U.S Network debut.
  35. He has sung the role of Faust in Boito’s “Mefistofele” and Gounod’s “Faust.”
  36. He has three Verdi operas on DVD, including “La Traviata,” “Simon Boccanegra,” and “Macbeth.”
  37. Paul Asciak was his first and only teacher for most of his life.
  38. He filmed a music video for “Celeste Aida” starring model Sephora Micallef in Malta.
  39. In 2013, he set up the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation.
  40. His Twitter handle is @MaleteseTenor.

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?