Joseph Calleja: I cried when I realized how quickly my children are growing up

The Maltese tenor needs little introduction. Malta’s own cultural ambassador, Joseph Calleja’s beautiful singing voice has crowned a career of two decades, still going strong at 40. Calleja tells us who he’d want to have dinner with, his greatest achievements, and even his most embarrassing moment on stage

Before I die I want to see that my children have grown into loving, hard-working and decent adults
Before I die I want to see that my children have grown into loving, hard-working and decent adults

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Brush my teeth, shower.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

No good deed goes unpunished.

What do you never leave the house without?

My phone.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Generous, good-hearted if occasionally impulsive

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Personally my children, professionally maintaining a world-class career over two decades.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Chocolate, in all its forms but especially ice cream.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

People will always believe what they want to and that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Like many, my house.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Not many people are honest, embrace the ones that are.

Who’s your inspiration?

My mother and my immediate family – we are close and I am very proud of that.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Biting my tongue when confronted with the unfair and ludicrous.

If you weren’t a tenor, what would you be doing?

Probably a doctor or lawyer.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, but it’s a very complicated yes.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I had the opportunity to lunch and dine with some very interesting personalities. On the forefront is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – she is an extraordinary personality and already an icon.

What’s your worst habit?

Sometimes I am too honest for my own good.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I am a happy drunk if a tad obnoxious.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Never thought about it – I don’t think my life story is that interesting.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dishonesty, hypocrisy and double standards.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’

What is your most treasured material possession?

My wine collection.

What is your earliest memory?

Going to Gozo with my mother and siblings.

When did you last cry, and why?

When I realized how quickly my children are growing up. It’s astonishing to see them go from toddlers to budding, young adults.

Who would you most like to meet, Why?

I met him once very shortly but I would certainly enjoy a longer time with Bill Clinton.

What’s your worst habit?


What’s your favourite food?

Too many to mention but few things beat an aged ribeye…

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

I don’t follow people on social media that way. Try to stay away from browsing on fb and other social media.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Definitely in the time of the Roman empire

What book are you reading right now?

Daniel Massa’s PSI Kingmaker

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To expose certain people for what they are.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

See that my children have grown into loving, hard-working and decent adults.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I listen to anything if it is good music.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I seldom sing in the shower and don’t really listen to music when I am working out.


What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you whilst performing?

I once performed in Beirut with my fly open…

Where in the world would you choose to perform your last show ever?

Definitely Malta.