On Heels of Chart-Topping Solo Album and First Grammy Nod, Joseph Calleja Returns to Met in Title Role of Gounod’s Faust on Jan 5

Joseph Calleja, the 33-year-old Maltese tenor who finished 2011 with a top-ranked solo album (The Maltese Tenor) and a Grammy nomination for his recording of La traviata with Renée Fleming, will ring in 2012 with a return to the Metropolitan Opera in the title role in Gounod’s Faust, opening January 5. Calleja is the third of three leading tenors to take on the character in Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff’s new-to-the-Met production this season (the two who have preceded him are Jonas Kaufmann and Roberto Alagna). With Ferruccio Furlanetto as the devil and Marina Poplavskaya as Marguerite, Calleja, “one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today” (Associated Press), will give five performances (Jan 5-19). Last season, he 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. On the same stage, 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).

The Maltese Tenor, Calleja’s third album with Decca Classics, debuted in the US in October at the number one spot on the Billboard Classical Traditional Chart – having topped similar lists in the UK and Germany earlier in 2011. At year’s end, it made both NPR Music’s list of “50 Favorite Albums of 2011” and NPR Classical’s list of “10 Favorite Albums of 2011.” Said the NPR reviewer: “It’s rare these days to find an opera singer with such an individual sound that you can identify him or her in just a couple notes. Tenor Joseph Calleja, from the tiny island of Malta, is just such a singer. You can hear the golden Mediterranean sunshine in his voice, and I love his old-fashioned fast vibrato, which flickers like a vintage silent movie. Calleja ... is arguably today's finest lyric tenor and in this, his third recording for Decca, his voice is even bigger and richer than in his equally superb earlier albums.” Recorded in Geneva with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marco Armiliato, the album includes Puccini arias from Tosca and La bohème, and arias from Gounod’s Faust. Also included are love duets from La bohème and Bizet's The Pearl Fishers, for which Calleja is joined by soprano Aleksandra Kurzak.

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