Set in front of the ornate, gold-trimmed walls of New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, sat center stage a black baby grand, ‘Steinway and Sons’ piano to welcome two gifted performers, ushering in a first time opera experience.
Internationally-renowned tenor Joseph Calleja’s background, at the age of 37, is no less than extraordinary. Having traveled all over the world, taking on a spectrum of glorious and challenging opera roles which include ‘Madame Butterfly,’ ‘La Boheme,’ ‘Faust,’ ‘Romeo and Juliette,’ and ‘The Tales of Hoffmann,’ what Calleja made an exemplary debut in Boston accompanied by acclaimed, internationally-touring pianist Kevin Miller, whose repertoire was also no less impressive.
In a Celebrity Series season that has explored a wide variety of music that included Herbie Hancock, return dance performances from Alvin Ailey, and what’s great about Duke Ellington by Rob Kapilow, still ahead for Celebrity Series of Boston is a full month of performances that includes The Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, musical duo Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan, and the dynamic piano styling of Stephen Hough in May.
Visit celebrityseries.org for the full schedule!
Celebrity Series of Boston, in another dynamic music turn, proudly welcomed tenor Joseph Calleja and pianist Kevin Miller on Friday, April 17, their compilation compelling the audience to welcome no less than five encores, taking Boston by storm. Singing a broad range of arias from Puccini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and a selection from Offenbach’s ‘The Tales of Hoffmann,’ Calleja delivered a soaring, endless range, traveling from angelic vocal heights to deep, rich tones, and making it all look easy.
Dressed in a black suit and a crisp, button-down shirt, Joseph Calleja engaged the audience with passionate arias about the splendor of romance and sorrow, and between performances, shared short, personal reflections peppered with a witty sense of humor. In a serious moment, he dedicated a song to his mentor who was sick in the hospital. He delivers on a myriad of topics through song, a highlight being a humorous aria from ‘The Tales of Hoffmann,’ accenting the lyrics with wild gestures and scattered, exaggerated poses. Calleja spoke about his passion for opera, exemplifying it through Puccini’s ‘E lacevan le stelle’ from Tosca as his final scheduled aria of the evening.
His encores were deeply personal too, sharing stories with Pablo Sorozábal’s ‘No puede ser’ from La Tabarnera del Puerto and the deeply romantic Tosti-D’Annunzio’s ‘A Vuchella.’ He serenaded an audience member with Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s ‘Mattinata’ to her delight and delved into the timeless masterpiece, Edith Pilaf’s ‘La Vie En Rose.’
Calleja’s final encore was dedicated to a special couple sitting in the audience who welcomed Calleja when he first visited Massachusetts at age 20, his only English-spoken song, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to roaring applause.
Joseph Calleja’s performance opened a window into the stunning, charismatic, and compelling world of opera in a way that exudes passion through the poetry of the lyrics, redefining the very idea of “wearing the heart on the sleeve.”
Visit celebrityseries.org and firstname.lastname@example.org for a closer look at the rest of Celebrity Series of Boston’s season and the recently announced 2015-2016 season!