July 12, 2012

Les Contes d’Hoffmann | The Metropolitan Opera via Fathom Events


“Calleja sang the role with impressive charisma for a debut role. His bright voice could carry a pretty tune, but also gush with passion when appropriate.”


May 1, 2012

La Bohème | Royal Opera House


Calleja’s admirably tempered aria “Che gelida manina” is far stronger than Giannattasio’s answering “Si, mi chiamano Mimi”, and the audience lets them know with their applause. Still, we’re engaged enough and invested thanks to Calleja and his cohorts (particularly the affably boyish charm of Fabio Capitanucci’s Marcello). Read more

March 15, 2012

The Maltese Tenor (CD-Review)


“Calleja sings especially well in the French-language selections: in Faust, Hoffmann and Manon he manages the tricky feat of projecting plausible-sounding French without resorting to nasality or any restriction of his beautifully open sound…. Read more

January 15, 2012

Faust | The Metropolitan Opera, January 2012


January 15, 2012

“But there’s one good reason to revisit this “Faust”: the tenor Joseph Calleja, who has replaced Jonas Kaufmann in the title role. Mr. Calleja has one of the loveliest voices in opera right now, pure, sunny and strong, but with a ringing vibration — even the slightest quaver — at its core that comes across as vulnerable rather than unsteady. Faust’s floating exclamation “O merveille!,” when Méphistophélès grants him his first vision of youth, was all quiet astonishment; his great aria “Salut, demeure” was beautifully controlled.” Read more

October 25, 2011

“The Maltese Tenor” Launch at Le Poisson Rouge, October 2011


“Opera recitals are usually relatively formal affairs, so it was a treat to hear Mr. Calleja, 33, a tenor from Malta, in such an intimate space. He charmed the audience with jokes and anecdotes during the one-hour event, accompanied by Steven Mercurio conducting an orchestra squashed onto the small stage.” […]

“Mr. Calleja’s passionate interpretations here were also distinguished by his beautiful phrasing, alluring in his ardent rendition of “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s “Tosca,” and “Forse, la soglia attinse” from Verdi’s “Ballo in Maschera” and “Pourquoi me réveiller” from Massenet’s “Werther.””

July 25, 2011

Prom 13: Verdi Requiem | Royal Albert Hall


25 July 2011

“Calleja’s penetrating, elegant tenor was ravishing in both Ingemisco and Hostias…”

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. Read more

January 10, 2011

Rigoletto | The Metropolitan Opera, January 2011


“The “veteran” in the group is Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja as the Duke of Mantua. Still in his early 30s, he has made quite a name for himself since his impressive debut at the Met in this same role in 2006. And happy to report, Mr Calleja has gained in stature and confidence while maintaining his always appealing, easily recognizable tone, with its fast vibrato and easy top notes. His smooth legato was always in evidence, particularly in his duet with Gilda and in his second act aria, where he genuinely seems to be in love with her. And he tossed off “La donna e mobile” almost conversationally. I can’t think of another tenor who sings this role better.” Read more

December 11, 2010

La Boheme | The Metropolitan Opera, December 2010


“Singing their roles for the first time here Wednesday night, Joseph Calleja as the poet Rodolfo and Krassimira Stoyanova as the tubercular seamstress Mimi managed to overcome these obstacles and give performances that were moving in their sincerity and directness. Calleja, a Maltese tenor still in his early 30s, has a voice unlike anyone else on the operatic scene today. A rapid vibrato gives his sound an alluring sweetness, and in recent years he has refined his technique so that the quality is consistent throughout his range, up to high C. On Wednesday, there was an irresistible tenderness to his utterances when he first sees how ill Mimi is. Though not the subtlest of actors, he entered into the stage business convincingly, joining gamely in his roommates’ high jinks and playing the part of a jealous lover when Mimi innocently flirts with passers-by.” Read more

December 10, 2010

Elisir d’amore | Bavarian State Opera, December 2010


“After Giuseppe Filanoti and Pavol Breslik, Joseph Calleja has now stepped into the role as a dream casting, secure in singing and acting. Playing Nemorino as a kind of Chaplin-Keaton clown clone is not the thing for this tree of a man and his nobly vibrating timbre, And so in the costume and make-up and demeanor of a shy youngster we had the body of a giant. The not just marriage-hungry girls were allowed to undress him, and the sight of black, feel-good underwear instead of the usual body-hugging white variety – we could clearly hear it – still had plenty of impact on the ladies in the audience. He didn’t just sing his “Una furtiva lagrima” with infatuating beauty, but also managed the feat four meters up in the air on a lamp post.” Read more

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Joseph's Blog

November 15th, 2015

Men in Black

Men dressed in black shooting indiscriminately, young people fleeing in terror, some leaving trails of blood behind them – broken bodies dangling from windows three stories above the street. People fleeing and trampling over the dead trying to escape the line of fire… Is this the latest Dan Brown novel? No, this happened yesterday in Paris and was the second attack in less than a year.

I sometimes get the impression that the majority of people have become desensitized to footage of fellow human beings being slaughtered in the middle of a major European city. Modern technology allows us to video people trying to flee whilst the terrorists take pot shots at them. One such video showed a young man limping leaving a trail of blood behind him, another was very bravely pulling along the body of another of the fallen. Young women were hanging from windows by the tips of their fingers and others were crying for help in the most unimaginable distress. When exactly will enough be enough?  Not since World War II has there been a time when Europe needs to stand united and legislate new laws that give utmost protection to the bona fide immigrants and take to task those who are here just to incite violence, thinking that they can impose their archaic and often barbaric way of life upon us Europeans. Some might argue (at least in the case of France) that the hatred is born and bred at home and the attackers might be holding French passports. Well in the latter case new laws have to be passed with haste to allow the government to strip citizenship and take all the necessary precautions and actions to extrapolate these evil human beings from society permanently. Something has to change and something has to give but will it?

Nor is it a problem exclusive to Europe. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq etc. and no these acts are not less serious because they happen to happen “there.” Scores of videos showing decapitation of anyone who doesn’t agree with their barbaric ideology, children shot point blank and/or buried alive, the rape of countless women, the selling of young girls in slave markets and all this in 2015. Need I continue? Isn’t it high time that the Western World takes a no nonsense approach and sends a clear message to the perpetrators and those who support them. Yes we do know who they are. We have known for years but they are “allies” so we cannot really do anything about it or so we think. Just google Clinton Wiki Leaks and those who are uninformed are in for quite a nasty surprise. Then again I might be out of my depth discussing the above – I am sure there are those who will say as much and they would probably be right. However there is one thing I know very well – our entertainment. We do take the latter very seriously in the West and it is ingrained in our culture…

Many will ask  why I am bothering to write “off topic” and how this is relevant to classical music. Oh, but it is very relevant and this recent attack could indeed mark the end of live performances, theatre, cinemas etc. Hyperbole? Think about it – how many attacks will it take in Europe for people to start avoiding theatres, stadiums and restaurants? Few other venues lend themselves better to be used as a platform for mass carnage than a space where hundreds of people sit in close proximity to each other whilst they enjoy themselves with their guard let down. Make no mistake, these terrorists new exactly what they were doing and they drove the stake right at the heart of one of the world’s most beautiful cosmopolitan cities. I am afraid to say that if such an attack would happen in Malta it would wipe tourism out for months if not years, crippling the industry altogether. Globally change for the worse has already happened. How many opera productions were modified, changed or dropped altogether because it “might” offend some minority or other? I am also guilty of the latter – in the 2012 proms I wanted to dress as a Knight of Malta but had second thoughts after someone pointed out to me that it would be seen as a provocation by some since it evoked memories of the crusades! For crying out loud,  it is the year 2015 and some living with us in the streets of London and Paris seem to think that the price for Blasphemy should be death – think Charlie Hebdo and the Scandinavian incidents. A simple youtube search will serve you with an alarming number of results of some of these “protests” and some of the “messages” conveyed during such rallies.

What is sure is that something  has to change and something has to give. We can’t ignore helping the genuine refugees who are fleeing this exact same massacres in their troubled lands but we can’t continue to succumb to pressure to give up our way of life or our own security at the same time. It is a very tough act to balance. A no nonsense approach with  people who refuse to integrate or are trouble makers strikes me as a very civil, fair and logical solution to the plight Europe is facing.  Yes, we need to take serious action against those who hate our way of life and we would have the full support of the real Muslim moderates who are escaping that way of life anyway. Think of the Australian model – they seem to handle this nonsense in a concise and strong way.

Priorities must be put in the right order. Mediterranean is in turmoil  with scores of men, women and children drowning and washing up on beaches, hundreds of thousands fleeing persecution and certain death from countries like Iraq and Syria, the ever growing threat of global terrorism and an ever growing dangerous far right movement in the Western world, yet what some want us to worry about in Malta is whether a Muslim woman can wear a “Niqab” or “Burka” in public. This mollycoddling and fake liberalism has to stop. These absolutely ridiculous requests and expectations have to be ignored and focus must be directed to the issues that matter.

I am inclined to think that a family of refugees fleeing the threat of beheadings, rape, slavery and wanton murder would not be concerned about Christian symbolism such as Father Christmas, Baby Jesus and the occasional cross. It is neither racist nor bigoted to be proud of our way of life. We don’t have to change for anyone and the real, moderate Muslims will appreciate and embrace the new culture that took them in and they will be thankful that they are in a safe place where they can go about their business in peace.