On Air Now
Early Breakfast with Sam Pittis 4am - 6am
The tenor Joseph Calleja has got tongues wagging all over the place, with many referring to him as the next Pavarotti. But one other giant of the vocal world, Mario Lanza, led to Joseph Calleja getting a coveted Classic BRIT nomination in the Album of the Year category.
The title track and Mario Lanza's calling card, Be My Love is the only place to start. Calleja gets the most iconic of Lanza's songs out of the way first of all, and what a bang-up job he does too.
Another classic tenor song, Granada has been performed by all the greats over the years, but it was Mario Lanza that made it famous. Calleja's version captures Lanza's easy charm perfectly, but he manages to bring something of himself to it as well.
Don't leave us, Joseph! This is properly mournful stuff, but Calleja keeps it from tipping over into hysterical melodrama, where it would've been so easy to do so.
Written way back in 1888 by Juventino P. Rosas, it was famously given an airing in The Great Caruso, with Mario Lanza in the title role.
The eighth song in Rossini's collection 'Les soirées musicales', this showpiece sounds like it's as much fun to perform as it is to listen to. Calleja clearly is having a ball with it, but also (quite discreetly) nailing it completely. Photo: Decca/Mathias Bothor
Taken from Sigmund Romberg's operetta The Student Prince, this Serenade has since been tackled not only by Mario Lanza, but most operatic tenors. It's a sentimental number ("Overhead the moon is beaming!") but Calleja is careful not to let it get mawkish at any point. Photo: Simon Fowler Photography / Decca 2012
This is an operatic standard for most tenors who've been lucky enough to explore the standard repertoire, and both Mario Lanza and Joseph Calleja would have sung it many times before. The trick is to put your own stamp on it and, thanks to his uniquely soaring voice, Calleja manages it here. Photo: Simon Fowler Photography / Decca 2012
Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana is a modern opera classic, and anyone attempting to scale those heights is brave indeed! But Mario Lanza's been there before, and therefore so must Joseph Calleja. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
This Neapolitan song is shot through with shimmering strings, which make the perfect bed for Calleja's inimitable and sensitive tenor. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
Another Tosti Neapolitan song, but this time much more dramatic and joyous. Castanets and tambourines aplenty all the way through definitely enliven the atmosphere, and Calleja sounds like he's having a fabulous time - a pleasure to listen to. Photo: Simon Fowler Photography / Decca 2012
Naples-born Cesare Andrea Bixio was one of his generation's most popular composers of popular songs, and it's pretty easy to see why when you get a singer like Joseph Calleja involved - Parlami d'amore, Mariù is a proper confection. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
Taken from Ponchielli's great opera (and the only one of his regularly performed today), La Giaconda, this allows Calleja to really open up his range. Interestingly, the same opera also contained the famous 'Dance Of The Hours' section of ballet music, made even more famous when it appeared in Disney's Fantasia. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
Calleja's tribute to Mario Lanza works so well because he refuses at any point to slip into simply 'doing an impression' of the great tenor. Particularly on this aria from Giordano's opera, Fedora, the voice and delivery are unmistakably Calleja. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
Calleja, being completely bilingual, has a fantastic knack with English language songs. And not only was the original song nominated for an Academy Award in 1952, it was also one of two million-sellers that Brodszky scored with Mario Lanza. Photo: Mathias Bothor / Decca 2011
Bizet's blockbusting opera is famous for its more rambunctious numbers, so this considered and quiet little aria is sometimes forgotten. Fortunately, Joseph Calleja is on hand to shed a little light on this classic, and gives us a very sensitive performance. Photos by Karin Cooper.
In his role as 'the new Pavarotti', Joseph Calleja was going to have to tackle Nessun Dorma at some point. But to do that on an album paying tribute to another legendary tenor, Mario Lanza, the opportunities for comparison are positively daunting. How does he fare? Well, you only need to listen to that soaring climax to know you're in safe hands. Photo: Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera.
Songs don't get more iconic than this, so it's a tricky one to get right when you're recording it. Again, as with the rest of the album, the shadow of Mario Lanza's legendary voice is always cast over Calleja's interpretations, but you simply can't fail to be moved when he hits that incredible final refrain.
A perfectly romantic way to finish, Because has its fair share of fantastic couplets, and Calleja has immense fun with all of them. Try and listen to the final verse, which finishes "Pray his love may make our love divine / Because God made thee mine" and not be moved.