“The Maltese-born Calleja…has matured into one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today.” -Associated Press
Blessed with a golden age voice that routinely inspires on both sides of the Atlantic. At only 33 years of age, he has sung 28 principal roles and performed on most of the world’s leading opera stages, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and the Vienna Staatsoper. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics, his third solo album, The Maltese Tenor, debuted as the best-selling vocal album on the core classical charts in the U.K. and Germany when it was released earlier this year; it will be released in the U.S. this fall.
Joseph Calleja begins the 2011-12 season with recitals in Eastern Europe — at the Ljubljana Festival in Slovenia, and at the Dvořák Prague Festival in the Czech Republic — and will embark on a concert tour in Korea. He follows this with concerts in Paris, Munich, and Vienna, performing repertoire from The Maltese Tenor and will take part in a performance of Verdi’s Requiem in Cologne. In December, Calleja will appear with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Stockholm, a performance which will be broadcast on international television. Returning to the opera stage at the end of the year, the tenor sings Nadir in Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He kicks off 2012 performing the title character in a new production of Gounod’s Faust at the Metropolitan Opera, then returns to Europe for the title roles in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at Munich’s Bayerische Staatoper, and Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz at the Frankfurt Opera. In the spring, in a highly anticipated return to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Calleja sings Rodolfo in La bohème. He concludes the season with a concert at the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen; singing Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor in a return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin; and appearing once more as Rodolfo at the Munich Opera Festival.
Last season, Joseph Calleja took on three signature roles at the Met: Rodolfo in La bohème, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto (the role in which he made his house debut in 2006.) Also at the Met, he debuted in the title role of Bartlett Sher’s new production of Tales of Hoffmann, where he “gave his all, singing with ardor, stamina, and poignant vocal colorings and winning a rousing ovation” (New York Times). Other recent successes include the role of Pinkerton in a new, season-opening production of Madama Butterfly at the Houston Grand Opera, and a role debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where, almost “steal[ing] the show” (Independent), he proved himself a “thrilling Adorno” (Financial Times) opposite Plácido Domingo in Simon Boccanegra.
Born in Malta in 1978, Joseph Calleja began singing at the age of 16, inspired by the film The Great Caruso starring Mario Lanza. After singing in his church choir, he began formal training with Maltese tenor Paul Asciak. Calleja made his professional debut in Malta in 1997 as Macduff in Macbeth, and later that year won an award in the Belvedere Hans Gabor competition, launching his international opera career. He went on to win the 1998 Caruso Competition in Milan and was a prizewinner in Domingo’s Operalia the following year.
Calleja made his Covent Garden debut as the Duke of Mantua, and soon returned to sing Alfredo, Macduff, and Adorno, and sang in a concert performance as Nicias in Massenet’s Thaïs. At the Vienna Staatsoper – in addition to his celebrated Verdi roles – he has portrayed Elvino in Bellini’s La sonnambula and Arturo in I puritani; Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and the title role of Roberto Devereux. At Vienna’s Konzerthaus, he sang Tebaldo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi alongside Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča, in concert performances recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and released in early 2009. He sang Tebaldo again in concert performances at the Salzburg Festival, and appeared as Verdi’s Duke and Bellini’s Elvino at the Zurich Opera. The Duke of Mantua was also the vehicle for debuts with the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Netherlands Opera, the Welsh National Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin, where he gave his first performances as the lead in Gounod’s Faust. Audiences at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu got their first impression of him as Nemorino, and he debuted as Rodolfo at Dresden’s Semperoper and at the Frankfurt Opera – where he also returned for role debuts as Roméo in Roméo et Juliette and Ruggiero in La rondine. Calleja’s German debut was as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Regensburg Festival, a role he reprised for his debut with the Teatre Principal de Palma, Majorca. His first appearance at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro was in the role of Lind in the world premiere of Azio Corghi’s Isabella. In addition, he has sung Alfredo in a new production of La traviata at the Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg; Ernesto in Don Pasquale in Brussels; Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Liège; Fenton in Falstaff at the Teatro Regio di Torino; Edoardo di Sanval in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno in Bologna; Verdi’s Duke in Rotterdam and Copenhagen; Rodolfo at the Bregenz Festival; and Leicester in Maria Stuarda in Stockholm and Parma.