Old Favourites Performed with Passion

Joseph Calleja displays his considerable vocal talents with fine readings of well-loved works by Puccini, Verdi and others.

Composer: Puccini, Verdi, Offenbach, Massenet and Gounod.

Repertoire: Popular Opera Arias

Artists: Joseph Calleja, Aleksandra Kurzak; Suisse Romande Orchestra/ Marco Armiliato
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Opera

Label: Decca 4782720

The Music: There’s little off the beaten track in this recital of evergreen opera arias from Joseph Calleja, but nothing wrong with that. There’s plenty of Puccini, volumes of Verdi, and miles of Massenet. It’s all from the melodic, heart-on-sleeve, popular end of the 19th-century operatic spectrum. 

The Performance: Decca has recently re-launched its core classical brand with a greater emphasis on ‘proper’ classical music (i.e. rather than crossover), and is plugging Calleja as one of its brightest young stars. Smart move. 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 from La Bohème, Tosca, Manon, Faust and the Pearl Fishers. 

The Verdict: It’s a recital that shows off Calleja’s rich, rounded and ringing sound at its best. If he doesn’t quite find anything strikingly new in this works, it’s still a pleasure to hear them performed so warmly. 

Want More? Calleja’s earlier recital, The Golden Voice (Decca, 475 6931), offers several gems.