Verdi, Donizetti, Cilea & Puccini

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COMPOSERS: Cilea & Puccini,Donizetti,Verdi
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Joseph Calleja
WORKS: Arias & ensembles by Verdi, Donizetti, Cilea & Puccini
PERFORMER: Joseph Calleja, Lydia Easley, Giovanni Battista Parodi; Milan Giuseppe Verdi SO & Chorus/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 475 250-2
Over the last few years, quite a few new tenors of major importance have appeared and taken their places in the world’s opera houses. A handful have turned out to be exceptional. Here is one of them: Joseph Calleja. The young Maltese artist’s recital reveals a highly individual voice, with an appealing, fluttery vibrato that sounds a little like turn-of-the-previous-century legends such as Alessandro Bonci. But even more remarkable are Calleja’s musicality, sense of style and dramatic engagement. When you compare his characterisations here – Verdi’s heartless lover-boy Duke, grief-stricken Macduff and impetuous, callow Alfredo – Calleja is able to differentiate them subtly in terms of the tonal colours he uses and his mode of vocal attack. What all these roles require – and Donizetti’s Nemorino and Edgardo, too – is a delicately shaped line and plenty of dynamic variety. Here, too, Calleja is outstanding – indeed you’d have to go back to the late Alfredo Kraus to hear such graceful, musically scrupulous tenor singing. Riccardo Chailly melds with Calleja in accompaniments that are energised, crisp and alert, and Decca has provided spacious, bright and beautifully balanced sound. A remarkable debut disc. George Hall

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