Joseph Calleja to Lead TRAVIATA at Chicago's Lyric Opera, 11/20-12/20

On November 20, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja-Gramophone magazine's 2012 Artist of the Year-returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago to headline La traviata in an incisive new production from Princess Grace Award-winning director Arin Arbus (Nov 20-Dec 20). The tenor's most recent appearance at the venerable company was opposite Anna Netrebko in La bohème last season, when he "restored powerful and idiomatic singing to the character of Rodolfo" (Chicago Sun-Times), and justly "earned the torrent of applause he received" (Chicago Tribune). In October, Calleja released Amore, his latest album for Decca Classics. Drawing inspiration from legendary tenors-including Enrico Caruso, whom Calleja plays in James Gray's upcoming film The Immigrant, Amore includes such favorites as "Bésame Mucho," "La Vie en Rose," "Time to Say Goodbye," and "You Raise Me Up."

Calleja's Alfredo is already legendary. It was his portrayal of La traviata's tragic hero that inspired the New York Times to declare: "He is the real thing, a tenor who naturally combines plaintive sound with burnished intensity. He sings with heart and intelligence," and that, in a live recording from Covent Garden, scored him his first Grammy Award nomination. The UK's Telegraph found that "Joseph Calleja was the most endearing of Alfredos, singing with fresh, forthright, vibrant tone," while The Times of London marveled, "The Maltese tenor's beautifully rounded voice oozes old-school class-he's shiveringly good."

In Chicago Lyric's lavish new staging, Calleja's co-stars will be Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka, making her Chicago debut as Violetta, and Quinn Kelsey as Germont, hailed as "the Verdi baritone we've been waiting for" (Chicago Sun-Times). Calleja will star in all ten performances, with Verdi specialist Massimo Zanetti on the podium.

The tenor looks forward to reprising Alfredo at the Bavarian State Opera alongside Diana Damrau and Simon Keenlyside (July 4-10). This production will crown a full operatic season that also sees him revisit signature leading roles in La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera (Jan 14-30) and Faust at the Royal Opera House (April 4-25), besides headlining Tales of Hoffmann (Feb 8-14), Rigoletto (May 3-9), Madama Butterfly (June 12-19), and Macbeth (June 27-July 1) at the Bavarian State Opera.

September saw the international release of Amore, the tenor's new album of romantic arias for Decca Classics. Recorded with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Steven Mercurio, the new disc evokes the golden era of Mediterranean song as popularized by Gigli, Schipa, and Caruso, with a program featuring cinema classics by Morricone and di Capua's beloved "O Sole Mio." According to the Financial Times, "Palpably in his prime...the Maltese tenor brings a beguiling elegance, supported by some fabulous orchestrations." The UK's Daily Mail urged:

"Do get his new album of popular favorites, Amore (five stars). He sounds especially joyous throughout. ... Calleja wants to entertain a wider public than those who can afford top seats at Covent Garden or the Met, and he does that here in spades."

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