D. Macdonald | Johannesburg - South Africa | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I plan to return and edit this review once I have REALLY listened to this incredible disc - acquired only yesterday. Interestingly Mr Calleja has chosen to move away from the overdone workhorses of the tenor repertoire and introduce or re-acquaint his audience with some lesser known pieces. With the exception of "Una Furtiva Lagrima" there's probably little here that you've listened to recently, and it's that one track that I already feel qualified to review. My introduction to "Lagrima" was through no less a singer than Caruso. Despite the quality of that old, vinyl, mono recording the bar had been set and until now has not been surpassed, despite my hearing it in probably hundreds of renditions. Calleja perfects it. But not alone. Like a piece of fine jewellery where the beauty lies in the design (composition), the materials (orchestra), the setting (arrangement/conducter), the gemstone and its cut (soloist) and finally the presentation (recording/engineering) - so it is with this piece. Unquestionably Donizetti composed a masterwork for tenor. The players of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields are, at their best peerless in performing such music. Under the baton of Carlo Rizzi they here surpass their best. I have never experienced such a lucid orchestration of the composition. Even without the voice this would rise to an honourable position on any preferred listing of the piece. But each note, and each musician here counts and complements the solo instrument that is Calleja's voice. For the first time I appreciate that m'ama is not Mamma, so distinct is Calleja's vocal work. It has been said that he shapes rather than sings a piece. The analogy with the gemcutter then holds true, and here Calleja shines. Beautifully recorded and engineered by Decca, this is as close to perfection as I ever expect to hear. I found no less delight in any one of the thirteen other tracks, and perhaps that's all that need be said. I shall not change this review after all."
Joseph Calleja - The Voice Painter
Mark Spiteri | 05/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Calleja has the golden voice for the lyric classical-romantic repertoire and he demonstrates it here with a selection of Italian and French arias, from Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi to Massenet and Offenbach, Bizet and Gounod. Here is a program packed with melodies, which he sang during the past eventful years on the opera stage. Calleja's voice is supported by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in esquisite form under the direction of Carlo Rizzi and in two numbers Calleja is accompanied by Anna Netrebko and Tatiana Lisnic. Joseph Calleja shapes each aria according to the mood implied in the text. His diminuendos are simply breath-taking."
No Sophomore Slump for This Bright-Voiced, Often Wondrous Ma
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having enjoyed his first recital disc released in 2004, I was looking forward to his follow-up of French and Italian arias from the prodigious Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. Fortunately, even with a rather pompous title, my expectations have been exceeded by this discriminating collection which plays to his strengths as a lyric tenor with a bright tone and silvery vibrato. His recordings are crossing over quite a bit with those of Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon, but their voices could not be more different. Villazon offers a comparatively heavier, darker tone than the younger Calleja, who offers a more delicate sound with alternating currents of intense fire and plaintive poignancy.
The Italian bel canto selections provide the ideal showcase for his voice here starting with his sonorous performance of Verdi's "La mia letizia infondere vorrei" from "I Lombardi". He covers four Donizetti selections with great passion with my personal favorites being his vibrantly heroic take on "Deserto in terra" from "Don Sebastiano" and the heartbreak he captures fully as Nemorino on "Una furtiva lagrima" from "L'elisir d'amore". There are two Bellini selections included, one of which is a moving and often spectacular duet with soprano Anna Netrebko on "Son geloso del zefiro errante" from "La sonnambula", their ethereal voices intertwining perfectly in their upper registers. Inviting a direct comparison to Villazon on his recent and equally superb "Opera Recital" disc, Calleja affectingly covers Nadir's mournful arousal over the priestess Leila in "Je crois entendre encore" from Bizet's fantasy opera, "Les Pecheurs de perles".
The French offerings are not as dramatic a showcase but still quite pleasing to hear in this context. The two Massenet selections are quite touching - "Pourquoi me reveiller" from "Werther" and a duet with soprano Tatiana Lisnic on "Instant charmant...En fermant les yeux". But the best of this group is the open yearning he expresses so freely in the familiar "Ah! leve-toi, soleil!" from Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette". The accomplished Carlo Rizzi leads the dexterous playing of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and always seems to find the proper balance between voice and instrument. This is a jewel of a recording and proof that a sophomore slump is not the fate for this young tenor from the Caruso school of singing."
Nuel Urgino, An Opera fan, Valparasio, IN , USA
M. Urgino | Valparaiso, IN United States | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I LOVE this album! Joseph Calleja's voice seemed to grow a little darker and deeper in this CD as compared to his Debut CD two years ago. His voice has grown fuller and richer and so refined to the point of being indistinguishable from the voice of the great Swedish tenor, Jussi Bjoerling. The voice mannerism seems to be same with a touch of little laziness but with a tremendous voice level consistency. If Joseph will take care of his rare instrument which I am sure he is doing now, I can only see how great of an instrument he has. I am suspecting he will come close, very close to the unique timber of the Great Caruso. Joseph is Joseph and I am glad to see that he is his own voice and style, however as we know, everyone is being measured by a yardstick which is now the voice and the singing of Enrico Caruso. I can only hope that Joseph will continue working on making his high C more secure than what it is now. If he can do that, he can inherit the mantle of the great tenors of the 20th Century. Congratulation Joseph, and thank you for the pleasure you give me in hearing your voice. "
Not gold, or any other metal but exquisite Silk
Douglas E. Braga | SÃO PAULO, SÃO PAULO Brazil | 03/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The only mistake with this cd is the chosen name, because gold reminds us something hot...exciting. Calleja's voice has nothing of those things, it reminds us of something very pure. Purity is not golden, it's silvered. His voice is just like the most exquisite Silk for our ears, fresh water! It's so good to see that in this generation we have a lot of different kinds of tenor voices, we're all well served. The impression I got when I was listening to this cd was that I was listening to Beniamino Gigli nowadays. It was so moving! So, I think that the right name for this cd should be "THE SILKY VOICE""