On the heels of his success this summer at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where, almost “steal[ing] the show” (Independent), he proved himself a “thrilling Adorno” (Financial Times) opposite Plácido Domingo in Simon Boccanegra, Joseph Calleja begins the 2010-11 season with his Houston Grand Opera debut in a new, opening-night production of Madama Butterfly. Calleja sings B.F. Pinkerton opposite soprano Ana Maria Martinez, who makes her role debut as the tragic Cio-Cio-San. The production team will be led by the renowned British director Michael Grandage, who received the 2010 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play for Red, and who is celebrated by theater audiences for his productions of Hamlet and Frost/Nixon. The cast of Madama Butterfly will work under HGO Music Director Patrick Summers. The first performance on October 22 marks the opening night of the company’s 2010-11 season, and the production runs through November 5.
At just 32, Calleja has already performed 28 leading roles in opera houses around the world. He will sing three of these roles this season at New York’s Metropolitan Opera: Rodolfo in La bohème (December 1 – 11), Edgardo opposite Natalie Dessay in Lucia di Lammermoor (February 24 – March 19), and the role in which he made his house debut in 2006, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto (January 11 – 27). The March 19 performance of Lucia will be transmitted live to movie theatres around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Last season at the Met, Calleja made his role debut as the title character in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman in a new production by the Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher. Of Calleja’s performance, the New York Times wrote that he “gave his all, singing with ardor, stamina, and poignant vocal colorings and winning a rousing ovation.”
The 2010-11 season also finds Calleja making his Canadian recital debut as part of the prestigious International Vocal Recital series at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on November 19. The tenor is no stranger to Canadian audiences, having made his debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Rodolfo in La bohème a decade ago, when he was only 22 years old. On the other side of the Atlantic, Calleja returns to two of Germany’s most prestigious houses—Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper for L’elisir d’amore and La bohème and Berlin’s Deutsche Oper for Lucia—and gives a concert of opera arias in Istanbul, Turkey. Calleja ends the season on tour with the Metropolitan Opera in Japan, singing Edgardo opposite Diana Damrau’s Lucia.
An exclusive Decca recording artist since 2003, Calleja will release his third solo disc for the label, an album of Italian and French arias, in 2011. His first two albums of opera arias, The Golden Voice and Tenor Arias, captured critical and popular acclaim, and prompted Riccardo Chailly, with whom he collaborated on the first recording, to comment, “For some time I have not heard such a talent at this young age, with a sound harking back to a quality I thought we had long lost.” Both albums won Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine, and the Observer praised Calleja as “a rare discovery” and a singer capable of “evoking memories from Caruso to Domingo with the suppleness of his tone and the expressive, highly individual lyricism he brings to even the most familiar material.”