‘Sold-out’ audience expected for Joseph Calleja concert

Concert to also have a free-of-charge standing area.

Opening up classical music to the masses has been a priority for Joseph Calleja for some years now.
Opening up classical music to the masses has been a priority for Joseph Calleja for some years now.

A sizeable crowd is expected for tomorrow's Joseph Calleja concert at the Granaries, Floriana, according to organisers NnG Promotions.

Calleja will be joined by beloved Italian blues-rock singer Zucchero - who had last graced the Granaries in the summer of 2011 - along with British pop singer Rebecca Ferguson and local acts.

Speaking to MaltaToday, NnG director Nigel Camilleri was confident that the concert would be a "sold-out" affair, with the 4,000-strong seated crowd set to be filled up.

The concert will also have a free-of-charge standing area, by dint of an agreement between government and Joseph Calleja himself.

"Opening up classical music to the masses has been a priority for Joseph Calleja for some years now, and the free standing space is a move towards that," Camilleri said.

In a press conference announcing the event, Calleja had said that the move is in line with a more democratic view of opera than one we may have become accustomed to, because it "brings back culture to where it belongs, since opera and classical music are intended for the masses not the elite".

Apart from Calleja and Zucchero, the concert will also feature British singer-songwriter Rebecca Ferguson, who gained prominence after she became the runner-up in the pop music talent show The X Factor in 2010. The lineup will be completed by Malta's former Eurovision hopeful Gianluca Bezzina and local electronic DJ duo Tenishia. Having achieved international acclaim, Tenishia will also be performing a song with Joseph Calleja on the night (Miserere).

The concert will also include the participation of the Joseph Calleja BOV Children's Choir - who met to rehearse with Calleja at the Divine Mercy Church at San Pawl tat-Targa on Monday evening - and the National Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Mro Steve Mercurio.

Born in Malta in 1978, Joseph Calleja began singing at the age of 16, inspired by the film The Great Caruso starring Mario Lanza. After singing in his church choir, he began formal training with Maltese tenor Paul Asciak. Calleja made his professional debut in Malta in 1997 as Macduff in Macbeth, and later that year won an award in the Belvedere Hans Gabor competition, launching his international opera career.

He went on to win the 1998 Caruso Competition in Milan and was a prizewinner in Domingo's Operalia the following year.

At only 33 years of age, he has sung 28 principal roles and performed on most of the world's leading opera stages, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, London's Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and the Vienna Staatsoper.

Now on his fourth visit to the Maltese Islands, the Italian singer Zucchero enjoys a multi-generational fan base, as his blend of rock, blues and gospel appeals to a wide market, and has netted him a number of prestigious music industry awards in the past. Zucchero (real name Adelmo Fornaciari) was born on 25 September 1955 in Roncocesi, a rural town in the province of Reggio Emilia.

His formative years as a musician were informed by American rhythm 'n' blues, though as he would later implement indigenous Italian sounds as he advanced in his songwriting career. Breaking out in the 1980s - when he secured a deal with Polygon records and performed in Sanremo - he would go on to become a household name by the end of that decade, with his ninth album 'Oro, Incenso & Birra' becoming the best-selling album in the history of Italian pop music when it was released in 1989.

Il-kantant sorpriza ser ikun Riccardo Cocciante li diga qieghed ghawn Malta.