Joseph Calleja, City Winery, Decca Classics
On the heels of his success at London's legendary Last Night of the BBC Proms this past weekend-which was broadcast live on television, radio, online, and in cinemas across the U.K.-Joseph Calleja, "arguably today's finest lyric tenor" (NPR), returns to the Big Apple on Thursday, October 11 to perform selections from his new Decca Classics recording, Be My Love: A Tribute to Mario Lanza, in a concert with orchestra at City Winery in downtown Manhattan.
The event, which marks the Maltese tenor's only New York appearance during the 2012-13 season, is being presented in collaboration with the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival and comes two days after the U.S. release of the new recording (Tuesday, October 9). Steven Mercurio, who leads the BBC Concert Orchestra on the album, will also conduct the New York performance. Tickets for the 8 PM concert range from $25 to $45 and will be available for purchase through the City Winery's website beginning this Thursday, September 13.
Be My Love: A Tribute to Mario Lanza is Joseph Calleja's fourth solo album as part of his exclusive contract with Decca Classics. On the new recording, Calleja brings his "honeyed tone and ingratiating style" (New Yorker) to songs and arias made famous by the great Italian-American movie star and singer, including the Brodszky/Cahn title track, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone," and Lara's "Granada," as well as "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot.
As Calleja tells it, this is an album that he has always wanted to record. At age fourteen, he saw Lanza in the cult film The Great Caruso and was so captivated that he gave up his predilection for Metallica and Iron Maiden, instead opting to become an opera singer. In describing the moment, Joseph says, "From the first few notes, when he warms up in the movie before singing the Tarantella, I was struck by that incredible beauty of operatic singing."
Be My Love: A Tribute to Mario Lanza is already topping charts in Europe following its recent international release. Last week it claimed the No. 1 spot on the Danish pop chart, surpassing releases by artists such as Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen, and Adele – the first time since the release of The Three Tenors in 1994 that a classical album has achieved such a high ranking on a pop chart in the country. In the UK, the album shot to No. 1 on the iTunes UK classical chart and peaked at No. 4 on the Amazon UK overall bestseller chart after Calleja appeared on the popular morning show BBC Breakfast to talk about the new album and sing the title track live on air. (Watch the interview and performance here.)
But the Last Night of the Proms and the release of his new Decca Classics recording are not the only things on the Maltese tenor's agenda for the 2012-13 season. Stateside, he returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in March as Rodolfo in a new-to-Chicago production of Puccini's La bohème, opposite superstar soprano Anna Netrebko as Mimì in her company debut.
On European opera stages, Calleja will been seen this season at the Vienna State Opera as Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, at Munich's Bavarian State Opera as the Duke in a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto and as Tebaldo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and at the Frankfurt Opera as Riccardo in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. In addition, he gives a single concert performance as Nadir in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
On a concert tour of Europe this January and February, Calleja performs selections from Be My Love: A Tribute to Mario Lanza, stopping in Paris, London, Vienna, Munich, Amsterdam, and Baden-Baden, among other cities. In addition, the tenor celebrates the 200th birth anniversary of composer Giuseppe Verdi with concerts at Milan's La Scala and Munich's Bavarian State Opera, and he performs as part of galas at the Helsinki Music Centre, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Dublin's National Concert Hall. Joseph Calleja's complete schedule can be found at www.josephcalleja.com.