JOSEPH CALLEJA The Maltese Tenor 4782720

Calleja's sound -- marked by a warm, flickering vibrato and the ability to float soft high notes to the rafters -- sets him apart from other tenors today. Just a few notes and you know it's him singing . . . his sound is his own . . .

. . . it was a treat to hear Mr. Calleja in such an intimate space. . . That voice has recently matured into an impressive instrument with a fast, distinctive vibrato; gleaming high notes; and glowing timbre. 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" . . . At the concert's end the crowd cheered, stamped and shouted . . .

. . . he provided buoyantly good-humored banter throughout the evening . . . "Ma se m'è forza perderti" was the bold opener, and for me one of the highlights of the evening. Calleja's rendering was elegant and impassioned, and I understood every syllable . . . His account of "Pourquoi me reveiller" was very sensitive, with a delicate tapering to piano on "printemps" . . . Daniel Hope was welcomed with great fanfare, and gave a graceful, sensual "Meditation" from Thais . . . ["Au fond du temple saint"]: Calleja and Luca Pisaroni gave a rendering of it which nicely blended sensuality and awe. If "O soave fanciulla" is sung well, I honestly don't care how often it's excerpted; I love it. And Calleja and van Kooten sang it very well indeed. Calleja's Rodolfo was earnest, charming, besotted, and just a little bit naughty: in other words, perfect . . . Calleja rounded out the evening with some popular favorites: a showy, sunny, splendid "Granada," and an "O sole mio" that succeeded surprisingly well, due, I suspect, to an interpretation that was straightforward and open-hearted . . . I do recommend the album . . .

. . . a most gifted singer.

Mr. Calleja's singing is a magnificent throwback to the golden age of Enrico Caruso. It is not just the distinctive beauty of the tone, but its fine-grained texture, most notably characterized by that rapid vibrato . . . plangent cantabile phrasing, in which each note is connected in a seamless golden line . . .

. . . an unabashed opera nerd, I can tell you that the sound of the "golden age" is alive in the voice of tenor Joseph Calleja. He's a young singer with an old-school sensibility . . . Calleja has a sun-drenched Italian sound, a vibrato that flickers like old silent movies and the ability to float soft, high notes like few singers can today . . . [Renée Fleming about Calleja]: "The way he sings is uniquely his," she says. "It's not like other singers who are versed in the typical Italianate style. His is rounder and warmer, but also kind of a soft-grained sound. And I love the fast vibrato; that's my own personal taste. But the reason why his singing is especially beautiful, I think, is because it sounds so natural. He has a rare ability to make things sound easy."

. . . a superb vocalist with a secure technique and a voice of unique colour. He's clearly an artist of subtlety and style -- it's no wonder that he's being sought by the great houses of the world.

Calleja has grown up: the Maltese falcon is flying . . . he's not a slender, tender tenor type, but instead a big, bullish soundbox on tall frame and imbued with roaring charisma . . . This is a major, major star in the making. If he's coming to a stage near you soon, you don't just want a ticket; you need one, fast.

This is an outstanding new album of opera arias, from one of the most exciting tenors on the opera stage today.

. . . Calleja sounds at his vocal peak on this . . . his is a bright, warm, unmistakably Mediterranean timbre, with a distinctive quick vibrato that recalls great tenors of the wind-up-gramophone era. Yet he is a thoroughly modern musician . . . His "Che gelida manina" is surely the most glamorous and thrilling on disc since Pavarotti's famous complete recording, but it is no carbon copy. The following "O soave fanciulla", with Kurzak, is goose-pimple-raising stuff, too. The promise of his Des Grieux . . . is irresistible; . . . [his is a] youthful, virile, ardent voice . . . In short, a golden-age voice in its prime.

Joseph Calleja's most recent Covent Garden appearances (Gabriele Adorno opposite Placido Domingo's Simon Boccanegra, Alfredo to Renée Fleming's Violetta) proclaimed a tenor who deserves star billing on his own, an impression supported by this studio recital with the Suisse Romande Orchestra under Marco Armiliato. There is the obligatory Puccini, but it's his Faust in Gounod's opera, his Hoffmann, Des Grieux ("Manon"), Rodolfo ("Luisa Miller") and Riccardo ("Un ballo in maschera") that best advertise his stylishness and sweet, well-produced timbre. A joy to listen to.

. . . he shows no cramping of his natural bel canto style by the French line, finding plenty of room to manoeuvre. And when he and the soprano Aleksandra Kurzak begin their dalliance, the chemistry is sublime . . . Calleja at his best: robust and resonant.

. . . there's no confusion over what makes the product worth seeking. There's something direct and disarming about this singer's approach. The timbre, as I said, has a great deal of character; there's something of sunlight in that vibrato. And Calleja can get to the heart of a text tellingly. He does consistently persuasive work here in a sampling of greatest hits from lyric tenordom . . . [the recording] exudes conviction and style. A great example of the tenor's artistic instincts occurs in "Salut! demeure" from "Faust." Calleja takes the high note head-on, with a big, solid tone, but then tapers that sound beautifully to make a most elegant effect . . . he includes the two gentle arias from "Mefistofele" and delivers both of them endearingly. The disc concludes with the gentle duet for Nadir and Leila in Act 2 of "The Pearl Fishers." Calleja is joined here by the very expressive soprano Aleksandra Kurzak; their performance ends with an especially delicious pianissimo. Marco Armiliato efficiently conducts L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in this attractive recording.

He's an artist who has developed in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and who sings with freedom, passion and elegance. His narrow, fast vibrato has a pleasantly old-fashioned sepia-tinted feel about it, and links him to an earlier generation of tenors . . . it's a recital which shows off Calleja's rich, rounded and ringing sound at its best . . . a pleasure to hear [these works] performed so warmly.

. . . it's the French arias here that leave you wanting more: his is a beautifully characterised "Légende de Kleinzach" from Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann", and a sexy "Ah! Fuyez, Douce Image" from Massenet's "Manon". Aleksandra Kurzak joins him for duets from "La Bohème" and "Les Pêcheurs de Perles", and is vastly preferable in the latter . . . there's some attractive playing from the Suisse Romande ensemble under Marco Armiliato.

. . . [Calleja's] honeyed, Italianate tone is swoonworthy . . . and his delivery is underpinned by a solid technique which bodes well for a long future.

. . . when I first heard Joseph Calleja's voice . . . I was immediately transported back to the old days. And I was thrilled. Calleja, like those tenors of long ago, has an old-fashioned flickering vibrato which gives his music a buoyant pulse. He also has a keen sense of dynamic control, allowing him to spin out a phrase high and soft, yet completely supported by the breath. We simply don't hear this kind of singing often these days, and when it's matched with thoughtful interpretations on stage, you have one special singer . . . If you're new to opera, "The Maltese Tenor" is a great place to start, with popular tenor arias exquisitely sung. If you're already a fanatic, you can bask in the bygone style of one terrific tenor.

Calleja has an exuberance about him that is tough to resist. This disc, blindingly bright in its recording, has him soaring through a famous scene from "La Boheme" . . . Calleja has a big billowing voice and impressive control ¿ a delight to listen to, even in arias you have heard a million times.

Calleja has an easy, liquid tone; in many ways it's a rather old-fashioned voice, with a fast vibrato and the ability to weight and shade a phrase, and he sings within his considerable vocal means . . . Calleja has a wide range of vocal colours and the ability to create a variety of characters; his Rodolfo is romantic, his Faust swooning, the Riccardo (from "Ballo in maschera") resolute . . . it's hugely enjoyable to hear a contemporary tenor bring the arias to life . . . there is no denying the overall quality of his singing. Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marco Armiliato provide solid support.

Calleja has an easy, liquid tone . . . Calleja has a wide range of vocal colours and the ability to create a variety of characters . . . it's hugely enjoyable to hear a contemporary tenor bring the arias to life . . . there is no denying the overall quality of his singing. Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Marco Armiliato provide solid support.

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 . . . 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, still in his early 30s, is arguably today's finest lyric tenor and in this, . . . his voice is even bigger and richer than in his equally superb earlier albums. It will be fascinating to hear this excellent singer evolve over the next couple of decades.

. . . the Met tenor clearly begins to hit his stride. Every aria is imbued with his velvety tone, impeccable phrasing and an expressivity that endures even without the visual gestures that singers rely on so often.

. . . the Met tenor clearly begins to hit his stride. Every aria is imbued with his velvety tone, impeccable phrasing and an expressivity that endures even without the visual gestures that singers rely on so often.

[Calleja]: his timbre imparts the coloration of a younger man . . . Calleja has the poetry for the tenor arias from "Tosca", but also the vocal heft for the Verdi repertoire. Those thrilling high notes echo back to Franco Corelli, unsurprisingly, an idol . . .

Calleja has the poetry for the tenor arias from "Tosca", but also the vocal heft for the Verdi repertoire . . . thrilling high notes . . .

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 . . . an artist of the first rank . . . he provides proof of present glory and hints at conquests to come.

The most impressive factor in this recital is that Calleja sings the music the way the composer wrote it . . . He sings the aria from "Simon Boccanegra" in a true bel canto style . . . he also sings beautifully [in the aria from "Les Contes d'Hoffmann"] . . . The two arias from "Tosca" are also sung well with a nice head voice on "E lucevan le stelle." He is fine in the arias from "Mefistofele", and in the "Faust" aria his French is excellent and he sings the high note softly with a wonderful diminuendo. In the "Manon" aria his voice caresses the music, and he is also quite forceful when he should be. His voice rings out brilliantly in the recitative to the "Luisa Miller" aria, which he also sings well, as he does the "Un Ballo in Maschera" aria . . . The final duet with Kurzak . . . is a fitting finale to an excellent disc. Marco Armiliato conducts excellently and the sound is first-rate . . . Obviously I feel that this recording is one that any lover of opera and the tenor voice should have.

Tenor Joseph Calleja's sound now has a beautiful shimmer and Mediterranean sunniness to it, coupled with an honest, authentic virility . . . its manliness is evident even when the singing is at its most nuanced . . . Calleja the artist employs a wide dynamic range, from the most delicate and effortless of pianissimos to full-throttle (but never forced) open-throated "fortes" . . . 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 . . . the sheer beauty of Calleja's voice and the artistry with which it is employed make this disc worthy of a place in any tenor-lover's collection, and of repeated listening . . . Calleja is more than equal to his foray into the spinto repertoire, without losing the beauty of tone and ease of production that characterized his earlier recordings. Calleja's success here must be shared with that most accommodating of "singers' conductors," Marco Armiliato. While maintaining the shape and dramatic impetus of each selection, the maestro clearly is always aware of who's supporting whom.

This is an outstanding new album of opera arias, from one of the most exciting tenors on the opera stage today . . . discover this remarkable talent for yourself . . . He's an artist who has developed in leaps and bounds over the last few years, and who sings with freedom, passion and elegance. His narrow, fast vibrato has a pleasantly old-fashioned sepia-tinted feel about it, and links him to an earlier generation of tenors in these opera pops . . . It's a recital that shows off Calleja's rich, rounded and ringing sound at its best . . . a pleasure to hear them performed so warmly.

Die gleißenden Spitzentöne Callejas rissen das Publikum bald von den Sitzen . . . Der Malteser ist gewiss kein Komet, der rasch verglüht. Am Opernhimmel wird er noch lange ein Fixstern der ersten Größenklasse bleiben.

Joseph Calleja's gleaming high notes soon tore the audience from their seats . . . The Maltese is certainly not a comet that will burn up soon. He will remain a first-class fixed star in the opera sky for a long time to come.

Den raschen Aufstieg verdankt Joseph Calleja nicht nur seiner angeborenen Musikalität und seinem persönlichen Charisma, wesentlichen Anteil daran hat auch sein unverwechselbares Timbre. Es ist eine glanzvolle Stimme, über die er verfügt, die sich selbst noch in stratosphärischen Höhen absolut sicher bewegt, die reich an Schmelz und mit einer besonderen Form des Vibratos begabt ist, wie man dies eigentlich nur von historischen Aufnahmen berühmter Tenöre der Vergangenheit her kennt.

Joseph Calleja owes his stellar ascent not only to his inherent musicality and his personal charisma, his unmistakable timbre also a fundamental part of his success. He has a brilliant voice that even moves stably in stratospheric heights, that is rich in mellifluousness and endowed with a special form of vibrato, which one actually only knows from historic recordings of famous tenors from the past.

Kaum ein anderer Sänger seiner Generation hat in den letzten Jahren international so für Furore gesorgt . . .

Hardly any singer of his generation has caused such a sensation internationally in the past years.

[Die Stimme] ist noch weiter gereift, ist voller, männlicher geworden, das Vibrato etwas weniger flirrend, der bronzene Schmelz jedoch um so größer und schöner . . . Noch immer kann Joseph Calleja im lyrischen französischen Fach wunderbar zart singen. Sein "Salut demeure chaste" aus Gounods "Faust" mit einem wunderbar ins Piano zurückgenommenen Spitzenton am Ender oder das die CD beschließende Duett aus Bizets "Les Pêcheurs de perles" an der Seite von Aleksandra Kurzak klingen betörend weich und fein strahlend. Für den Des Grieux in Massenets "Manon" gebraucht Calleja beides: den leidenschaftlichen Zugriff und den zart schimmernden Feinschliff . . . nie stellt sich das Gefühl ein, Calleja würde forcieren. Immer fließt seine Stimme herrlich frei: mal schneller, mal langsamer, mal schlanker, mal breiter . . . Derzeit dürfte wohl auch niemand das "Che gelida manina" des Rodolfo aus Puccinis "La Bohème" so schön, strahlend und herzergreifend singen. Aleksandra Kurzak vermag im Duett mit Calleja nicht nur eine anrührende Mimì zu sein, sondern auch eine wunderbare Leïla in "Les Pêcheurs de perles". Marco Armiliato und das L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande sind perfekte Begleiter, die nicht nur im Hintergrund agieren, sondern aktiv, klangschön und tiefenscharf mitgestalten.

. . . [The voice] has matured still further, is fuller has become more masculine. The vibrato is less shimmering. The bronze mellifluousness, however, is all the more stronger and more beautiful . . . Joseph Calleja can still sing wonderfully tenderly in the lyrical French repertoire. His "Salut demeure chaste" from Gounod's "Faust" with a wonderfully taken back piano high note at the end or the duet from Bizet's "Les Pêcheurs de perles" alongside Aleksandra Kurzak at the conclusion of the CD sound tantalizingly soft and subtly radiating. For Des Grieux in Massenet's "Manon" Calleja uses both: The passionate grasp and the tenderly shimmering final touch . . . One never has the feeling Calleja is forcing anything. His voice is always flowing wonderfully freely. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes leaner, sometimes broader . . . Currently there seems to be no one who can sing Rodolfo's "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's "La bohème" so brightly and with such heart-rending beauty. Aleksandra Kurzak is not only a touching Mimì in duet with Calleja but is also a wonderful Leïla in "Les Pêcheurs de perles". Marco Armiliato and the L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are perfect accompanists that not only perform in the background but also actively, with a beautifully bright tone help shape the recording.

Er malt nicht mehr im Pastell eines "tenore di grazia", sondern orientiert sich hier . . . an den kräftigeren Farben des Lirico, gar des Lirico spinto. Gleichzeitig verfügt er noch immer über die typische helle, weiche Stimme, die er "sul flato", auf der Luft, führt und deren Flexibilität er auch für manch schönes Diminuendo und "fil di voce" einsetzt . . . auch stellt man im Theater fest, dass Calleja keiner von jenen ist, die bloß singen und dazu spielen, sondern einen Charakter aus dem Gesang heraus zu gestalten sucht.

He no longer paints in the pastel of the "tenore di grazia" here but rather orients himself towards the stronger colours of the Lirico, the Lirico spinto even. At the same time he still has the typically bright, soft voice that he leads "sul flato" on the air and whose flexibility he also employs for many a diminuendo and "fil di voce" . . . In the theatre one also notices that Calleja is not one of those singers who simply sing and act as well but rather attempts to create his character through the singing.

Musikalisch freilich bietet die CD Hochgenuss, denn Callejas Stimme ist in den vergangenen Jahren gereift, klingt nun freier als zu Beginn seiner Karriere. Mühelos strömt sie auf dem Atem, die Register sind perfekt verblendet, und auch beim Aufstieg in die hohe Lage gibt es keine Verengungen zu beklagen. Im Gegenteil: Je höher es hinauf geht, desto wohler scheint sich der Sänger zu fühlen, der sich folglich auch ein vokales Kunststück wie das Diminuendo auf dem hohen C der Faust-Arie leisten kann. Überhaupt ist Calleja ein Meister der Differenzierung, der jede Vortragsbezeichnung der Partitur minutiös umsetzt, und aus diesem Nuancenreichtum Kapital für die stimmliche Gestaltung der einzelnen Nummern schlägt . . . [er gestaltet] ganz aus der musikalischen Linie heraus . . . [er verzichtet] auf außermusikalische Mätzchen . . . Kompetent unterstützt wird Calleja bei dieser CD von Aleksandra Kurzak als mädchenhaft klingender Mimì und Leila sowie vom Orchestre de la Suisse Romande unter der Leitung von Marco Armiliato, der sich einmal mehr als zuverlässiger, in allen Stilen bewanderter Kapellmeister erweist.

Musically this CD certainly offers delectation, for Calleja's voice has matured in the past years, now sounds freer than it did at the beginning of his career. It effortlessly floats on his breath, the registers are perfectly concealed and there is also no restriction to deplore in the ascent to the high register. On the contrary: The higher it goes the more comfortable the singer appears to feel, who can thus also allow himself a vocal feat like the diminuendo on the high C of the "Faust" aria. Calleja is generally a master of differentiation, who is able to implement every indication in the score meticulously, exploiting his richness in nuance for the vocal design of the individual pieces . . . [he forms] the music following the musical line . . .[he foregoes] extra-musical antics . . . Calleja is competently supported on this CD by Aleksandra Kurzak as a maidenly sounding Mimì and Leila as well as by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the direction of Marco Armiliato, who yet again manifests himself as a dependable conductor in all musical styles.

La voix se caractérise par ce vibratello qui la rend immédiatement identifiable . . . le ténor, dont les origines maltaises semblent devenues une autre marque de fabrique, a pris de l'envergure. A la manière d'un vin de Bordeaux qui se développe en vieillissant, le chant s'est élargi, le timbre ensoleillé, la silhouette fortifiée, au point d'évoquer dans son rayonnement rien moins que Luciano Pavarotti . . . C'est d'ailleurs les airs extraits de "La Bohème" qui évoquent le mieux Pavarotti : une ardeur juvénile combinée à une bonhomie rassurante, à l'image de ces jeunes dieux qui traversent les stades inconscients de leur force et de leur beauté . . . Mimi ¿ Aleksandra Kurzak en figurante de luxe ¿ projette au dessus de la portée . . . il n'y a pas aujourd'hui tant de ténors capables d'interpréter ces pages redoutables ¿ car exigeantes et rebattues ¿ sans donner l'impression d'effort, sans notes tirées, sans coups de glotte ou abus d'effet en guise de cache misère. Combien peuvent ainsi laisser déverser le flot d'un chant généreux qui semble couler de source ?