JOSEPH CALLEJA, tenor
THOMAS QUASTHOFF, bass-baritone
BIRGIT NILSSON, soprano
PLACIDO DOMINGO, tenor
After seeing Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso, Joseph Calleja, the most recent tenor sensation, decided to become an opera singer. After studies in his native Malta, he advanced rapidly making his major operatic debut in 1997 when nineteen singing Macduff in Verdi's Macbeth at the Astra Theatre. He then won several prizes including the Caruso Competition in Milan. Since then Calleja, in addition to performances with various smaller opera companies, made his American debut in Gianni Schicchi in Spoletto followed by his Covent Garden debut in Rigoletto and his Vienna State Opera in La sonnambula. In spite of his imposing physical appearance, he possesses a light lyric tenor, and impresses in many ways—but he has a constant fast vibrato that I find disturbing. Another rising tenor on the operatic scene, Rolando Villazón, sings much of the same repertory and does it with more security and purer sound (REVIEW). Calleja is championed by Riccardo Chailly and can be heard in the conductor's Puccini "discoveries" set as well as singing a few lines from La traviata in Renée Flemings By Request album. It does seem odd that Calleja's CD has less than 54 minutes of playing time.
We're in another world with EMI's reissue of Placido Domingo's Viennese recordings made in 1985, a budget-priced disk that shows the famed tenor in glorious voice in repertory that he obviously enjoys. Limited CD information, but it doesn't matter. Don't miss this one, even though the playing time is less than 45 minutes.
Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff already has to his credit many superb recordings including a CD of operatic arias of Wagner, Lortzing, Weber and Richard Strauss reviewed on this site (REVIEW).He adds further luster to his discography with this well-filled (79:53) superb collection of lieder of Schubert, Richard Strauss, Schumann and other "romantic" composers, ending with the traditional Danny Boy. Complete texts are provided.
Lovers of the soprano voice should not miss Birgit Nilsson's twin-CD set which was released in May 2003. It contains the only CD issues of her remarkable London LP of Scandinavian songs (OS 25942, issued in 1965, long out of print). The Verdi, Puccini, Wagner and Strauss have been issued often before, and display Nilsson's brilliant, secure high notes—glorious indeed. But for many collectors the superb performances of songs by Sibelius, Grieg and Rangstrom are the reason to acquire this CD. All texts are included, and the two maximum-filled CDs sell for the price of one. Don't miss it.
R.E.B. (May 2004)
this was issued in May 2003; this has been around for a year and I don't know how I missed it before, but I did!