Calleja, Joseph

Joseph Calleja, (born 22 January 1978 in Attard),[1] 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.[2]

On 2 November 2012, the University of Malta presented Calleja with a Doctor of Literature Honoris Causa in acknowledgment of his achievements as an internationally renowned tenor.[3]

On 8 October 2015, Calleja was elected to the Board of Directors of the European Academy of Music Theatre.[4]

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International success

In Europe, Calleja has performed in many opera houses including Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid Frankfurt Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, and many more.[2]

Calleja made his U.S. debut in 1999 at the Spoleto Festival. Since then, he has performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.[2]

He was the featured soloist at the 2011 Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm,[5] was selected by the Maltese President to perform a private concert for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.[6] He has sung at the Salzburg Festival and The Proms in London, including at the Last Night of the Proms in 2012 at Royal Albert Hall and at the Proms in the Park in 2013.[7] Calleja has given outdoor concerts in Amsterdam, Malta, Munich, and Paris.[citation needed]

Calleja was named Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2012.[8] In the same year, Calleja was selected to serve as Malta's first cultural ambassador.[9] In 2013, he was named brand ambassador for Air Malta.[10]

In 2013, Calleja sang at the televised Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to honoree Martina Arroyo, performing for an audience that included President Barack Obama.[11] The same year, he performed at the Supreme Court Musicale of the Supreme Court of the United States.[12]

Together with Malta's Bank of Valletta, he formed the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation in 2013, which will serve to help children and families in need.[13] In 2015 Calleja teamed up with James Drake to form the Drake Calleja Trust, which is a charity providing essential financial support to exceptionally talented young classical musicians.[14]

Concerts in Malta

In 2009, Calleja began a series of annual concerts at the Granaries in Malta. The first concert was performed with Michael Bolton.[15] In 2010, he sang with Dionne Warwick and Riccardo Cocciante and his choir of 500 children. In 2011, he appeared with soprano Hayley Westenra and Italian singer Lucio Dalla.[16] In 2012, he was joined by Ronan Keating and Gigi D'Alessio.[17] In 2013, he sang with Zucchero, Rebecca Ferguson, Gianluca Bezzina, Riccardo Cocciante and Tenisha.[18] In 2015, he sang with Anastacia as a special guest.


Calleja's first solo recital disc, Tenor Arias, was released in 2004. 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[19] and debuted at number one in the US Billboard Classical Traditional chart. His 2011 DVD of La traviata from the Royal Opera House and costarring Renée Fleming was nominated for a Grammy award.[20]

List of recording and videos

  • 2003: DVD of Maria Stuarda featuring Calleja as Leicester, recorded by the Fondazione Orchestra Stabile de Bergamo
  • 2004: Solo recital disc, Tenor Arias, conducted by Riccardo Chailly with the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano
  • 2004: "Puccini Discoveries": Cantata Cessato il suon dell'armi, conducted by Riccardo Chailly with the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano
  • 2005: Solo recital disc, The Golden Voice, conducted by Carlo Rizzi with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • 2009: CD of I Capuleti e i Montecchi featuring Calleja as Tebaldo, conducted by Fabio Luisi
  • 2010: DVD of Simon Boccanegra featuring Calleja as Gabriele Adorno with Plácido Domingo in the title role; recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
  • 2011: DVD of La traviata featuring Calleja as Alfredo Germont, recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London (Grammy nomination)
  • 2011: Solo recital disc, The Maltese Tenor, with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
  • 2012: Solo recital disc, Be My Love – A Tribute to Mario Lanza, BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Steven Mercurio
  • 2013: Solo recital disc, Amore, with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Steven Mercurio and featuring Nicola Benedetti and Ksenija Sidorova
  • 2013: CD of Simon Boccanegra featuring Calleja as Gabriele Adorno with Thomas Hampson in the title role; conducted by Massimo Zanetti
  • 2016: DVD and Blu-ray of Mefistofele featuring Calleja as Faust, with René Pape in the title role; conducted by Omer Meir Wellber at Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich.

Calleja made a guest appearance on Renée Fleming's album By Request, singing the role of Alfredo in the act 1 closing scene of La traviata. His recording of "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto was featured in the soundtrack for the 2007 film No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Calleja appears as tenor Enrico Caruso in James Gray's 2013 film The Immigrant[21] which also features Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard.



  1. ^ "Joseph Calleia - Malta's Hollywood actor". Malta Independent. May 21, 2013. Retrieved 2016-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b c "Joseph Calleja". Decca Records. 2003. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  3. ^ "Joseph Calleja – Maltese Tenor", 18 December 2012)
  4. ^ "New board elected: Thomas Adès, Joseph Calleja and Alessandro Di Profio new members", European Academy of Music Theatre, 10 October 2015
  5. ^ "Standing ovations for Calleja at Nobel Prize concert". The Times. Malta. 2011-12-09. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  6. ^ "Malta's Musical Ambassador" (PDF). The Telegraph. London. 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  7. ^ BBC: "Prom 76: Last Night of the Proms 2012"
  8. ^ "Artist of the Year: Joseph Calleja". Gramophone. London. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  9. ^ "Calleja is Appointed Malta's First Cultural Ambassador". Times of Malta. Malta. 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  10. ^ "Joseph Calleja Appointed Air Malta Brand Ambassador". Di-Ve. Malta. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  11. ^ Brian Kellow (December 2013). "On the Beat". Opera News. New York. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  12. ^ "Joseph to give a concert at the U.S. Supreme Court". Decca News. New York. 2013-11-15. Archived from the original on 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  13. ^ "BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation is Launched". The Malta Independent. Malta. 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  14. ^ "Drake Calleja Trust Website". 
  15. ^ "Joseph Calleja in Concert with Bolton". Times of Malta. Malta. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  16. ^ "Musical giants come together". The Times. Malta. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  17. ^ "Ronan dines at Villa Parisio". Times of Malta. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 30 July 2016. 
  18. ^ "Opera vs. pop – A summer concert in Malta". Euronews. 2013-08-03. 
  19. ^ "Calleja's album second in German charts", The Times, Malta, 28 June 2011
  20. ^ "Joseph Calleja's new album debuts as vocal bestseller on German charts". The Times. Malta. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  21. ^