First single Mascagni: Ave Maria is out now, listen here

World-renowned tenor Joseph Calleja announces the release of ‘Ave Maria’ – his first-ever sacred album. Released on 7th April 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, out today and available here, 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 operaand the first, ‘angelic’ song from his Wesendonck Lieder, giving the listener the chance to hearCalleja sing Wagner for the first time ahead of his debut as Parsifal at Bayreuth this summer.

Joseph Calleja’s Ave Maria will be released on 7th April on Decca Classics, available to pre-order here.


Pietro Mascagni: Ave Maria (Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana)

Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da requiem: Ingemisco

Jules Massenet: Méditation from Thaïs

Georges Bizet: Agnus Dei (after L’Arlésienne Suite No.2: Intermezzo)

Andrea Bocelli: Ave Maria

Alessandro Stradella: Pietà, Signore!

Gioachino Rossini: Stabat Mater: Cujus animam gementem

Gioachino Rossini: Petite messe solennelle: Domine Deus

Georges Bizet: Au fond du temple saint from Les Pêcheurs de perles (Pearl Fishers Duet)

Richard Wagner: Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen (WWV 49): Allmächt’ger Vater blick herab

Richard Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder WWV 91: No.1 Der Engel

Franz Xaver Gruber: Silent Night

Adolphe Adam: O Holy Night

Alphonsus Liguori: Tu scendi dalle stelle

Franz Schubert: Ave Maria, D.839

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