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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Verdi'
Artist - Joseph Calleja

For those not in the know, Joseph Calleja, (born 22 January 1978) is a Maltese tenor. He began singing at the age of 16, having been discovered by tenor Brian Cefai and continued his studies with Paul Asciak.

At 19, he made his operatic debut as Macduff in Verdi's Macbeth at the Astra Theatre in Gozo and went on to become a prize winner at the Belvedere Hans Gabor Competition the same year.

In 1998, he won the Caruso Competition in Milan and was a prize winner in Plácido Domingo's Operalia International Opera Competition in 1999.

Calleja's first solo recital disc, Tenor Arias, was released in 2004 and he followed that up in 2005 with The Golden Voice. In 2011, his third solo album Joseph Calleja – The Maltese Tenor reached second overall position on the German charts and debuted at number one in the US Billboard Classical Traditional chart.

His 2011 DVD of La traviata from the Royal Opera House and co-starring Renée Fleming was nominated for a Grammy award.

His muse here for his latest album release, Verdi, just released via Decca Classics, is Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi. An Italian opera composer, Verdi was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron.

Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

1. Aida - Se quel guerrier io fossi!..Celeste Aida
2. Il Trovatore - Ah sì ben moi
3. Di quella pira
4. La forza del destino - La vita è inferno...Oh, tu che in seno agl'angeli
5. Invano Alvaro
6. Don Carlo - È lui! desso! L'infante!... Dio, che nell'alma infondere
7. Otello - Già nella notte densa
8. Oh! Mostruosa colpa!... Sì, per ciel marmoreo, giuro!
9. Dio! mi potevi scagliar tutti i mali
10. Niun mi tema

For this all-Verdi collection, Calleja collaborates with the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, conducted by Ramón Tebar, to explore the light and dark in Verdi’s heroic tenor roles from Otello, La Forza del Destino, Don Carlo, Il Trovatore, Aida. He is also joined by guests soprano Angela Gheorghiu and baritone Vittorio Vitelli.

Now two decades into a stellar international career, for my money Verdi (which has a run time of 63 minutes) is a quite brilliant new album, and one that clearly demonstrates Calleja's increasing versatility as a singer.

The shimmering vibrato, reminiscent of the great Giacomo Lauri-Volpi, is still there, but it is less pronounced than in Calleja's earlier works. His fine lyric tenor voice can also be compared favourably with such giants as John McCormack, Tito Schipa and Jussi Bjoerling, if I may be as humble to suggest.

In closing, Joseph Calleja's voice here on Verdi (or on anything he puts his musical mind to, in truth) is just wonderful. Full of clear diction, beautiful tone and deep feeling, it is always a pleasure to have Calleja alongside me - whether it be at home or in the car.

Joseph Calleja (tenor), Vittorio Vitelli (baritone), Angela Gheorghiu (soprano), Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Ramón Tebar.

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