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 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.
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. 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.
The Maltese Tenor was closely followed by Calleja's first nomination for a Grammy Award, which he received in the category of Best Opera Recording for his portrayal of Alfredo in the Royal Opera House's production of La traviata. Recorded in the summer of 2009, the Opus Arte DVD features opera luminaries Renée Fleming as Violetta and Thomas Hampson as Germont. The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on February 12.