19 December 2014 at 5.50pm | Comment on this article
Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja recently spoke to BBC Radio 3's In Tune about The Royal Opera's new production of Un ballo in maschera, in which he sings the role of Riccardo, a king facing a terrible dilemma.
'Opera is an amplification of human emotions,' he told presenter Sean Rafferty. 'It's about love, hate, jealousy, revenge, envy, and politics. You can get an opera that encompasses many of these in the same piece. Un ballo in maschera is about politics, but it's mostly about a man who's tired of thinking about everyone else and not thinking about himself and the one he loves. Unfortunately, his love is an impossible love - he loves the wife of his best friend. It's a clash of love and love - the love for his friend and the love for the wife of his friend.'
'For once I agree with my character. I sympathize with Rodolfo [in La bohème], but if I was Rodolfo in real life, I would have gotten a job and tried to save Mimì, not doing my mediocre poetry which is not going to get me anywhere! Rodolfo refuses to grow up; Riccardo does not refuse to grow up. He thinks, "She's the wife of my best friend. I'm going to send them to England to keep them away". He's a man of extremely high principle and self-control. He's a good man.'
Joseph also gave an insight into how he portrays emotion on stage:
'Situations that happened in the past become alive again in a moment in time [on stage]. If a scene is about death, it's the death of my father. If it's love for the wrong woman, I've loved a couple of wrong women in my life! That resurfaces and becomes so real. It happened in the General Rehearsal - I thought, "If I can't control myself, I'm going to break down here". That's why Luciano Pavarotti said "singing is 90% brain and 10% heart". Only in operas like bohème do I let all that pain come out.'
Un ballo in maschera runs 18 December 2014–17 January 2015. Tickets are sold out, but there are 67 day tickets for each performance and returns may become available.