Opera Concert Review: JOSEPH CALLEJA, TENOR (The BroadStage in Santa Monica)

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by Michael M. Landman-Karny on November 30, 2023

in Music,Theater-International,Tours


In a captivating concert on November 11, the renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja graced the BroadStage in a recital performance that transcended the realms of virtuosity, emerging as a veritable masterclass in vocal artistry. The unfolding of the evening resembled a symphony of emotions, intricately navigated by Calleja’s unparalleled voice, casting a spell and leaving me enchanted and awestruck.

From the very moment Calleja stepped onto the stage, his authoritative presence set the stage for an evening marked by musical transcendence. The meticulously curated program, comprising a selection of arias and songs spanning diverse eras and styles, served as a testament to the tenor’s remarkable versatility and profound grasp of each composition’s intricacies.

Calleja’s vocal range, akin to an instrument of exquisite precision, effortlessly traversed intricate melodic lines with a seamless grace that belied the inherent technical challenges embedded within the chosen repertoire. His ability to convey a broad spectrum of emotions through his voice was nothing short of enthralling.

What truly distinguished Calleja’s performance was not confined solely to technical prowess but extended to the depth of emotion and storytelling he infused into each piece. His interpretation of the songs amounted to a theatrical experience, deftly painting narratives with vocal colors ranging from the delicate hues of a love ballad to the bold strokes of a tragic opera.

Nuanced and sensitive accompaniment on the piano by conductor Kamal Khan created a synergy between pianist and singer that made them sound as one.

In the pinnacle of the evening, during the rendition of “E Lucevan Le Stelle,” the aria from Tosca, Calleja delivered a rendition that elicited goosebumps — a blend of Jussi Björling’s masculinity interwoven with the Italianate melodiousness reminiscent of a young Pavarotti.

In the renditions of Neapolitan songs by Tosti, Calleja’s resonant voice and emotional depth evoked memories of Enrico Caruso, who immortalized these very compositions. Impressively, in selections by Handel, Leoncavallo, Dvorak, Massenet, and Tchaikovsky, Calleja showcased his ability to effortlessly master songs in multiple languages and diverse musical genres.

Navigating English songs not originally penned for operatic voices with finesse, Calleja’s interpretations of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss,” Mancini’s “Moon River,” and Bernstein and Sondheim’s “Maria” from West Side Story were lovely, if not definitive.

The young Czech soprano Lada Bockova was a surprise guest, joining Calleja for a duet of Bernstein’s “Tonight” and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en rose.” Bockova, with her crystal-clear lyric soprano, coupled with a Vogue-worthy figure and cheekbones, blended seamlessly with Calleja, promising a bright future for this emerging artist.

The palpable connection between Calleja and the audience cultivated an intimate atmosphere wherein each note resonated with genuine emotion. His ability to communicate the essence of each composition transcended linguistic barriers, immersing the audience in a collective experience that surpassed the physical confines of the concert hall.

Joseph Calleja’s recital performance stands as a resounding testament to his status as one of the preeminent tenors of our time. His voice, a marvel of technical prowess and emotional depth, combined with a meticulously curated program, culminated in an evening of musical enchantment. Calleja’s recital was not merely a performance; it was a triumphant celebration of the human voice’s capacity to transcend, inspire, and indelibly mark the soul of every discerning listener.

photos courtesy of BroadStage

Joseph Calleja, tenor
Kamal Khan, pianist
reviewed at The BroadStage in Santa Monica
Saturday, November 11, 2023
for Joseph Calleja’s tour schedule, visit Joseph Calleja

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