One of the world’s greatest ever tenors has sent a musical tribute to the life-saving “Covid warriors” at a care organisation in North Wales.
Maltese star Joseph Calleja recorded a video of himself singing a stirring rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone for the residents and staff at Pendine Park which has homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon.
The song came originally from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel, but has been adopted by many football clubs around the world, most notably by Liverpool where it is sung by fans before every home match.
More recently it has become a popular anthem for frontline staff and people in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.
On the video Joseph said: “This is a message of thanks for the Pendine Park Covid warriors. Thank you so much for saving lives and for putting yours on the line.”
The hugely talented tenor, who has performed at all the world’s major opera houses and concert venues, became friends with Pendine Park’s owners, Mario and Gill Kreft, after the Pendine Arts and Community Trust sponsored a concert at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in which he starred with his “big mate”, Sir Bryn Terfel in 2016.
At the time he said it was a dream come true to follow in the footsteps of his hero, opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, by performing on the iconic Eisteddfod stage.
But his connections with Wales go back even further to the late 1990s when he was given the starring role in a touring Welsh National Opera production of Rigoletto’s classic opera, The Duke.
He recalled: “I first came to Wales when I was about 20 years old when I was singing The Duke.
“I did a whole tour of Wales including Llandudno and Cardiff and I discovered the similarities between my nation and your nation.
“We both love singing, we both love drinking, we both love sports we both speak a very fine language that no one else speaks. The people have the same sense of humour as me and I felt right at home.
“It is just a coincidence that I look like a mini Bryn Terfel because Bryn Terfel is the only guy that can make me look small and I’m six foot two and a half. Bryn is bigger so he is like my bigger brother.
“I love and adore him. He is one of the greatest artistes in any era of opera and he has always been one of my idols.
“I got to know Mario and Gill after I performed in Llangollen with Bryn. I was staying at their home on the river bank and Mario put something in my drink that made me love them and I’ve been trying to find an antidote ever since but I haven’t been successful. It is not of the lack of trying!
“Joking apart, they are wonderful people and Mario was telling me about the fantastic Covid warriors at Pendine Park and I offered to record the video for them. I asked if it would bring some joy. It cost me 15 minutes of my time and I was delighted to do it.
“I chose You’ll Never Walk Alone because it has become something of an anthem in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s on my new album, Mantovani and Me, that was due to be released this week but is now coming out in September.
“It was also very appropriate because Mario is such a huge Manchester United fan and he had to listen to it with filters on apparently!”
Mario said: “Joseph is one the greatest ever tenors and his fabulous voice has a lyric quality that has rightly been compared to that of his hero, Luciano Pavarotti.
“He has a larger than life character to match his huge talent and we were deeply touched when he offered to record a video of him singing You’ll Never Walk Alone for our magnificent Covid warriors.”
It was a sentiment echoed by wife Gill who added: “We can’t thank Joseph enough for this very kind gesture which has been a great tonic and morale booster for our brilliant team who have risen magnificently to the challenge during the coronavirus crisis.”