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Joseph Calleja

ave maria w/Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Smbatyan

Decca Classics
Release Date: April 7, 2023

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Joseph Calleja Concert 2012
Times of Malta Interview
1 Mascagni: Ave Maria (After Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana)  
2 Verdi: Messa da Requiem: Ingemisco  
3 Massenet: Ave Maria (After Méditation from Thaïs)  
4 Bizet: Agnus Dei (After Intermezzo from L'Arlésienne, Op. 23, WD 28)  
5 Bocelli: Ave Maria (Arr. Mercurio for Tenor, Violin and Orchestra)  
6 Anonymous: Pietà, Signore (Arr. Hazell for Tenor and Orchestra)  
7 Rossini: Stabat Mater: Cujus animam gementem  
8 Rossini: Petite messe solennelle, Gloria: Domine Deus  
9 Bizet: Les pêcheurs de perles, WD 13, Act I: Au fond du temple saint  
10 Wagner: Rienzi, WWV 49, Act V: Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab  
11 Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder, WWV 91: No. 1, Der Engel (Orch. Mottl)  
12 Silent Night (Arr. Bateman for Tenor and Orchestra)  
13 Adam: O Holy Night (Arr. Gamley and Hazell for Tenor and Orchestra)  
14 Liguori: Tu scendi dalle stelle (Arr. Belli for Tenor and Orchestra  
15 Schubert: Ave Maria, D. 839 (Arr. Gamley and Hazell for Tenor and Orchestra)  
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World-renowned tenor Joseph Calleja releases ‘Ave Maria’ – his first-ever sacred album. Released on Decca Classics, just in time for Easter, this album marks the 20th anniversary of the Maltese tenor’s exclusive signing to Decca and the making of his debut recording in 2003.

Here, Calleja is joined for the first time on record by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sergey Smbatyan, with no less than four Ave Marias – by Mascagni, Massenet, Schubert and Andrea Bocelli.

The Mascagni is a setting of his Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana while the Massenet is the composer’s own 1894 transcription of his Méditation from Thaïs, originally for voice, violin, organ and piano or harp, but here in a new arrangement (featuring the brilliant Daniel Hope on violin) based on the opera’s original orchestration. The Schubert Ave Maria uses the classic Douglas Gamley arrangement made by Decca for Pavarotti in the mid-1970s, and another star tenor, Andrea Bocelli, gave special permission to his good friend Calleja to record his own Ave Maria, making him the only other tenor to do so.

Among other highlights on ‘Ave Maria’ are Calleja’s celebrated rendition of the Ingemisco from the Verdi Requiem and two splendid sacred tenor pieces by Rossini. Following these is another guest appearance, this time by French-Canadian baritone Étienne Dupuis, in the most famous tenor/baritone duet in opera, from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.

Also included is Rienzi’s stirring prayer from Wagner’s early grand opera, and the first, ‘angelic’ song from his Wesendonck Lieder, giving the listener the chance to hear Calleja sing Wagner for the first time ahead of his debut as Parsifal at Bayreuth this summer.  

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