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Joseph Calleja Makes U.S. Recital Debut This Week in Kansas City & Boston

When Joseph Calleja recently performed in Quebec on his first North American recital tour, the Maltese tenor was brought back for five encores. Le Soleil reported that the audience was "carried away by his effortlessly ample voice, which was warm and perfectly controlled." Now Calleja makes his U.S. recital debut on April 14, taking the stage at Kansas City's Folly Theater with pianist Kevin J. Miller. They follow that performance with a recital presented by Boston's Celebrity Series at Jordan Hall on April 17, with the wide-ranging program to include Handel's "Ombra mai fu," Tchaikovsky's "None But the Lonely Heart," Pergolesi's "Nina," the Kleinzach aria from Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Puccini's "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca and Macduff's aria from Macbeth, a reprise from the tenor's star turn last fall in the Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's opera. Calleja had yet another success last month at the Met, singing Edgardo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor with "stirring presence" and "plangent vigor," according to the New York Times. The review went on to describe "the characteristic throb in his throat ... both affecting and exciting."

Calleja's profile has never been higher. He made his Hollywood debut last year in The Immigrant, a "rich, beautifully rendered film" (Variety) in which the tenor - appearing in the movie alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Academy Award-winner Marion Cotillard - "magnificently impersonates" (Hollywood Reporter) his idol Enrico Caruso in a scene on Ellis Island. This casting was especially apt, because it was after seeing The Great Caruso at age 14 that the Maltese tenor was inspired to start formal vocal studies. In the 1951 biopic, Caruso is portrayed by Mario Lanza, to whom movie buff Calleja also pays tribute on his 2012 Decca release, Be My Love. A collection of arias and songs made popular by the iconic Italian-American singer-actor, the album includes "The Loveliest Night of the Year," as sung by Lanza in The Great Caruso.

From May 23 to June 10, Calleja performs one of his signature roles, Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème, at London's Royal Opera House. He will be reuniting with Anna Netrebko to reprise his part in the John Copley staging, with Dan Ettinger on the podium. American audiences will have the chance to see his Covent Garden performance when the closing night is shown in cinemas worldwide in the company's Live Cinema Season series (June 10). The Independent marveled over a previous Calleja performance in the production: "Everything about his sound and delivery is personal - the openness, the portamenti, the gentle flutter of vibrato, the 'covered' pianissimo spun to glorious effect ... you know it's special, you know you are in the presence of a little bit of operatic history."

After a gala concert at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw on June 22, there's more Puccini in store for Calleja, as he helps create a new production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin directed by fellow tenor Rolando Villazón, singing Ruggero in Puccini's La rondine (June 29, July 3). Calleja closes his season by reprising his Pinkerton in the Bavarian State Opera production of Madama Butterfly (July 13).


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