Joseph Calleja, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2006 as Verdi’s Duke of Mantua, returns to the role at the Met in a January 11-27 run of Rigoletto. This season sees Calleja as a fixture at the great New York house; he began with performances as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème in December, inspiring the Associated Press to remark that he had “a voice unlike anyone else on the operatic scene today” and that there was “an alluring sweetness” and “irresistible tenderness” to it. After Rigoletto, the Maltese tenor returns to the Met in February and March to sing Edgardo opposite Natalie Dessay in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, which will be transmitted live on March 19 to movie theaters around the world, as part of the “Met: Live in HD” series. In addition to Calleja’s stage performances, January sees the U.S. release of EMI Classics’ DVD of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra from Covent Garden, starring Plácido Domingo in the title role and Calleja in his role debut as Gabriele Adorno.
Joseph Calleja was only 28 years of age when he made his Met debut as the Duke in 2006, prompting the New York Times to note his “rich and expressive” voice. Now 32, the Maltese tenor “has matured into one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today,” according to a recent Associated Press review of Houston Grand Opera’s season-opening new production of Madama Butterfly, which starred Calleja as Pinkerton. The cast of the Met’s current revival production of Rigoletto features Nino Machaidze as Gilda and Giovanni Meoni in the title role, besides Calleja as the Duke. Paolo Arrivabeni conducts.
On January 11, the same day as the premiere of Rigoletto at the Met, EMI Classics releases a DVD of Elijah Moshinsky’s production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House, starring Plácido Domingo in the title role and Joseph Calleja in his role debut as Gabriele Adorno. The critical response to the summer 2010 performances at Covent Garden was unanimous. The Financial Times called Calleja “a thrilling Adorno,” and the Evening Standard described how “his ringing high notes...won the hearts of the audience.” Times music critic Neil Fisher wrote: “The fabulous Joseph Calleja…made me think not of his elder co-star but more of a young Pavarotti,” and went as far as to say: “In his care, the future of tenor singing looks pretty rosy.” According to the Guardian, it was Calleja who merited “the biggest cheer during the actual performance,” for singing “with an ardent intensity that caps anything else he has done here.” The Independent wrote: “Calleja almost steals the show,” and the Stage added that he “supplie[d] the most exquisite singing of the evening.” WhatsOnStage.com described the singer’s portrayal of Adorno as “peerless” and stated that his bright tenor was “reminiscent of the young Jose Carreras.” In the Financial Times’ recent review of the new DVD, which has already been released in Europe, Andrew Clark gave the release a five-star rating.