Joseph Calleja
Biography

“Only one lyric tenor on the scene today has the honeyed tone and ingratiating style to make comparisons to Pavarotti and Gigli seem serious, and it is Calleja, the man from Malta, who … is now maturing into an artist of the first rank.” (New Yorker)

Blessed with a golden-age voice that routinely inspires comparisons to “legendary singers from earlier eras: Jussi Björling, Beniamino Gigli, even Enrico Caruso” (Associated Press), Maltese-born Joseph Calleja has quickly become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after tenors today. His expansive discography and frequent appearances on the world’s leading opera and concert stages prompted NPR to hail him as “arguably today’s finest lyric tenor,” and led to his being voted Gramophone magazine’s 2012 Artist of the Year.

Joseph Calleja kicks off the 2022/23 season returning to the Opéra National de Paris, where the tenor sings Caravadossi in Puccini’s Tosca. Later, Calleja appears at the Paris Opera as Don José in Carmen. Calleja’s signature role of Caravadossi also brings him to Barcelona, where the tenor celebrates his house debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu (conductor: Henrik Nanasi), and to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin (conductor: Sir Donald Runnicles). Besides that, Calleja sings Alfredo in La Traviata at the Bayerische Staatsoper. The tenor further follows the invitation to the Bayreuther Festspiele, where he performs Wagner’s last work Parsifal – a role debut for Calleja. The new production by the U.S. director Jay Scheib, professor at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), promises to be an unusual experience for audiences, using virtual reality technologies. Among other highlights of the 2022/23 season is Calleja’s Australia tour, including concerts in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, and a concert in Auckland, New Zeeland. Calleja is also expected to tour in some CIS-countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

The previous season started for Joseph Calleja with his role debut as Il conte Loris Ipanov in concert performances of Feodora at Amsterdam Concertgebouw. The tenor also performed Cavaradossi (Tosca) in Vancouver and afterwards for the first time at Zurich Opera. He further celebrated his house debut at Paris Opera performing the role of Duca (Rigoletto) before returning to the Metropolitan Opera as Cavaradossi. At the Deutsche Oper Berlin the tenor presented another acclaimed signature role of his – Rudolfo (La Bohéme) and sang Rodolfo at Hamburg State Opera for the revival of Luisa Miller. At Grange Park Opera Joseph Calleja stared in a new production of La Gioconda (Enzo) and finished the season at Royal Opera House London with concert performances of Atilla (Foresto).

Highlights from recent operatic seasons include the title characters in new productions of Faust and Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera; Alfredo in La traviata opposite Renée Fleming, Adorno in Simone Boccanegra alongside Plácido Domingo, and another turn in the title role of Faust at Covent Garden; new productions of La Bohème, opposite Anna Netrebko, and La Traviata at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Maria Stuarda alongside Joyce DiDonato in concerts with the Deutsche Oper Berlin; and a new staging of Rigoletto at the Bavarian State Opera. He made his role debut as Riccardo in a new treatment of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, as Don José in Carmen at Oper Frankfurt in a staging of Barrie Kosky, as Cavaradossi in Tosca at Grange Park Opera, and portrayed Ruggero in Rolando Villazón’s staging of Puccini’s La Rondine at Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Calleja appears extensively in concert throughout the world, singing with leading orchestras at summer festivals, including Salzburg, and in outdoor concerts in front of tens of thousands of people. He was the featured soloist at the 2011 Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm, was selected by the Maltese president to perform a private concert for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and toured Germany with soprano Anna Netrebko. After co-headlining 2012’s Last Night of the BBC Proms, Calleja returned to the London festival in 2013 for a gala performance at the Royal Albert Hall and an open-air concert marking the Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. He stared in the renowned Open-Air Gala in front of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and sang at Moscow’s Zaryadye Concert Hall. Together with Diana Damrau, he performed a live concert at the Royal Palace of Caserta, Italy, as part of the Met Stars Live in Concert series. The program featured popular arias and duets by Verdi, Bizet, Rossini. In 2022, invited as a special guest, the tenor performed alongside Anna Netrebko at the 175th Anniversary concert at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.

As an exclusive Decca Classics recording artist since 2003, the tenor boasts an extensive discography that includes complete operas and concert repertoire, as well as seven solo albums: The Golden Voice, Tenor Arias, The Maltese Tenor, Be My Love: A Tribute to Mario Lanza, Amore, Verdi and The Magic of Mantovani. His videography enjoys similar success, and it was his portrayal of Alfredo in the Royal Opera House’s DVD/Blu-ray release of La traviata, in which he co-stars with Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson, that earned Calleja his first Grammy nomination. His rendition of the Verdi aria “La donna è mobile” is featured on the soundtrack of No Reservations, a 2007 motion picture starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. He made his Hollywood debut in 2014’s The Immigrant, in which he portrays the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso in a cast with Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner.

 

Calleja has been profiled in New York’s Wall Street Journal and London’s Times, among other newspapers, and has graced covers of magazines such as Opera News. An increasingly frequent face on television, he has appeared on such programs as CNN’s Business Traveller, BBC Breakfast, and the Andrew Marr Show, and been featured in numerous internationally televised concerts. In 2013, he made his U.S. network television debut performing in a Kennedy Center Honors tribute to preeminent American soprano Martina Arroyo on CBS.

Born in Malta in 1978, Joseph Calleja began singing at the age of 16, first in his church choir and then in formal training with Maltese tenor Paul Asciak. Calleja was only 19 when he made his operatic debut as Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth at the Astra Theatre in Malta, shortly before winning an award in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition that launched his international career. He went on to win the 1998 Caruso Competition in Milan and was a prize winner in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia in 1999, the year of his U.S. debut at the Spoleto Festival. Since then, Calleja has gone on to appear with the world’s great opera companies.

One of his native land’s biggest celebrities, Calleja was selected to serve as Malta’s first cultural ambassador in 2012, and he was named a brand ambassador for Air Malta. Calleja recently teamed up with Malta’s Bank of Valletta to form the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation, which will serve to help children and families in need.

Joseph Calleja
Awards

Blessed with a golden-age voice that routinely inspires comparisons to “legendary singers from earlier eras: Jussi Björling, Beniamino Gigli, even Enrico Caruso” (Associated Press), Maltese-born Joseph Calleja has quickly become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after tenors today. His expansive discography and frequent appearances on the world’s leading opera and concert stages prompted NPR to hail him as “arguably today’s finest lyric tenor,” and led to his being voted Gramophone magazine’s 2012 Artist of the Year. A Grammy-nominated recording artist for Decca Classics, he has released five solo albums for the label.

 

Joseph Calleja
Critical Acclaim