40 Fun Facts About Tenor Joseph Calleja As He Turns 40

By David Salazar

Joseph Calleja turns 40 years old today. Born on Jan. 22, 1978, the Maltese tenor has risen to the ranks of being one of the greatest singers in the world today.

In commemoration of his 40th birthday, here are 40 fun facts about this still burgeoning artist.

  1. He was born in Attard, Malta.
  2. He was inspired to sing at the age of 13 by the film “The Great Caruso,” starring Mario Lanza.
  3. In 2012, he released an album dedicated to Lanza, entitled “Be My Love.”
  4. He started singing at the age of 16.
  5. He made his operatic debut at the age of 19 as Macduff in Gozo.
  6. He has won a number of major competitions throughout his career. He was a prize winner at the Belvedere Hans Gabor competition at the age of 19.
  7. In 1998, he won the Caruso Competition in Milan.
  8. And in 1999 he was a prize winner at the Operalia International Opera Competition.
  9. In 2012 he was given a Doctorate of Literature Honoris Causa from the University of Malta.
  10. In 2015, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the European Academy of Music Theatre.
  11. His first recorded release was a performance of “Maria Stuarda” from 2003.
  12. His first solo album “Tenor Arias” was released in 2004 and features arias of Cilea, Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti.
  13. His second solo album, “The Golden Voice,” was released in 2005.
  14. “The Golden Voice” was his first collaboration with Decca.
  15. He has a total of six solo albums, including his recent “Verdi” CD.
  16. The tenor has appeared on solo albums of such artists as Renée Fleming and Angela Gheorghiu.
  17. Angela Gheorghiu also appears on his “Verdi” album, the two collaborating together on back-to-back solo albums.
  18. He has two recordings of “Simon Boccanegra,” one starring Plácido Domingo and one starring Thomas Hampson in the title role.
  19. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut on Oct. 25, 2006 as the Duke of Mantua in “Rigoletto.”
  20. He also made his Covent Garden debut in the same role.
  21. He has a total of 82 performances at the Met.
  22. The role he has sung most at the Met is the Duke of Mantua; he has performed it a total of 19 times.
  23. He performed in the opening night for the Met Opera’s 2017-18 season, his only opening night with the company.
  24. Calleja has appeared four Live in HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera including Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffman,” Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and Bellini’s “Norma.”
  25. He performed alongside Sonya Yoncheva in the final scene of the first act of “La Bohème” at the 50 Years at Lincoln Center Gala.
  26. The Maltese tenor made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2003 as Elvino in Bellini’s “La Sonnambula.”
  27. In 2009, Calleja kickstarted a series of annual concerts at the Granaries in Malta.
  28. He has a total of six Verdi roles in his repertoire, more than any other composer.
  29. He has five Donizetti roles in repertoire from such operas as “L’Elisir d’Amore,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Don Pasquale,” “Roberto Devereux,” and “Maria Stuarda.”
  30. He has five Puccini roles in his repertoire from such operas as “La Bohème,” “Gianni Schicchi,” “La Rondine,” “Madama Butterfly,” and “Tosca.”
  31. He appeared in the film, “The Immigrant,” taking on the role of Caruso.
  32. He is also featured in the film “No Reservations.”
  33. He is the recipient of the 2014 International Opera Awards’ Readers’ Award.
  34. Calleja appeared at the Kennedy Centers Honors awards to pay tribute to Martina Arroyo in 2013. It marked his U.S Network debut.
  35. He has sung the role of Faust in Boito’s “Mefistofele” and Gounod’s “Faust.”
  36. He has three Verdi operas on DVD, including “La Traviata,” “Simon Boccanegra,” and “Macbeth.”
  37. Paul Asciak was his first and only teacher for most of his life.
  38. He filmed a music video for “Celeste Aida” starring model Sephora Micallef in Malta.
  39. In 2013, he set up the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation.
  40. His Twitter handle is @MaleteseTenor.




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