Calleja and Keating to duet in Malta

Tenor Joseph Calleja will return to home shores on July 7, teaming up with Irish star Ronan Keating for his annual Malta concert.

One of the great pleasures of recent opera-going has been watching Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja develop from a good singer into a great one

The concert, also likely to feature what promoters NNG Promotions call a “well-known Italian singer” and conductor Steven Mercurio, will take place at the Granaries in Floriana.

Calleja is having a busy year. He has just recorded a new album – a tribute to opera star Mario Lanza – and played Enrico Caruso in an untitled James Gray film starring Joaquin Phoenix from Gladiator and Oscar winner Marion Cotillar.

He has been hugely active on the opera scene too. He starred at the Metropolitan Opera in New York at the turn of the year before a string of performances in Europe.

Last Monday, he opened a seven show stint of La Bohème at the Royal Opera House in London, for which he has already received rave reviews.

Neil Fisher of the London Times wrote: “Calleja’s Rodolfo justly won the lion’s share of ovations. The Maltese tenor stands out in the current crop of singers for his scrupulous musicianship and sweet tone: this is a deeply classy voice.”

Edward Seckerson from the UK Independent was probably even more effusive. “(Joseph Calleja is) one of the big stars of the moment… and didn’t it show. Everything about his sound and delivery is personal – the openness, the portamenti, the gentle flutter of vibrato, the ‘covered’ pianissimo spun to glorious effect at the close of Che gelida manina. You know it’s special, you know you are in the presence of a little bit of operatic history.”

The Metro London view was also complimentary. “One of the great pleasures of recent opera-going has been watching Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja develop from a good singer into a great one… Over the last couple of years he’s discovered and released in himself that indefinable extra quality – the quality which makes the listener’s emotional core vibrate like a violin string – that only the very greatest singers possess, and is unique to each of them. The applause on Monday for his performance of Rodolfo in La Bohème was deservedly rapturous.”

The Maltese tenor also has great dates lined up after his Malta concert. He is taking part in a gala performance at the Royal Opera House for opera legend Placido Domingo on July 25 and has been engaged to play a starring role in the highly prestigious Last Night of the Proms in London on September 8 which takes place simultaneously in the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park.

Keating, meanwhile, has performed with a host of stars including Elton John at Madison Square Garden and has sang for the Pope.

His music career of course started with Boyzone back in the early 1990s before he went solo – only to rejoin his bandmates in 2008, after nearly a decade apart, for what was a spectacular comeback.

Further information about tickets will be available from Wednesday. See for details.

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