Watch an exclusive video interview with José Carreras.
Listen to an audio version.
Read a synopsis of the interview (below).
The first musical experience that José recalls is attending a performance of Aida in Barcelona when he was just seven years of age. He was most impressed with Renata Tebaldi and Umberto Borso, the artists in the lead roles, and since that point, at least unconsciously, believed that one day he too would perform on stage.
The movie, The Great Caruso, was another inspiration, and he saw this while still quite young. It was after this that he began singing at home, trying to imitate the way Mario Lanza had sung the arias and songs.
The young José Carreras was so persistent with his singing that his parents eventually sent him to the Conservatorium to study. This resulted in him performing in his first opera, El retablo de Maese Pedro by de Falla, at the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona, when just 11 years old.
STUDIES and A DEBUT…
Carreras talks about his teachers, Francisco Puig and Juan Ruax, and the influences the two had on not only his musical development, but also as a person.
In 1970, Carreras made his first operatic debut as a tenor, playing the role of Flavio in Norma. The title role was played by the great soprano Montserrat Caballé, and she proved to be another great inspiration, providing support and encouragement that was vital in this early stage of his career.
After a successful operatic debut, Carreras entered and won the Verdi Singing Competition in Parma, and followed this up with his London Debut at the Royal Festival Hall.
Carreras has sung in some of the greatest opera houses in the world: the Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala Milan, the New York Metropolitan Opera, and London's Royal Opera House.
Whilst every opera house and every performance is different, Carreras believes that audiences all around the world basically want and enjoy the same thing - good singing and great operas.
Aida: In 1979, Herbert von Karajan asked Carreras to perform in Aida. The role of Radamès is not one of Carreras' favourite roles, but the opportunity to perform with Karajan was quite alluring.
Carreras discusses how he prefers the more attractive tenor roles such as Alvaro from La Forza del Destino, roles that are beautiful to sing, and that he feels are more suited to his voice and personality.
Don Carlos is another of Carreras' favourite operas. He recalls his performance of this Verdi favourite at the 200th anniversary of La Scala.
Carreras performed Verdi's Stiffelio at his London debut. Whilst this is not the most well known of Verdi's operas, he believes that this work gives the audience an opportunity to see something different.
The Verdi Requiem is another of his favourite works, and he talks about his numerous performances of this work.
Spanish and Italian songs also make up an important part of Carreras' repertoire. He discusses how their inclusion in the standard tenor repertoire is not only refreshing to himself, but also to listeners, and appeals to a wider audience than just straight opera programmes.
His work with the Three Tenors has shown similar results, and they have seen audience sizes grow considerably through presenting a varied programme.
THE INTERNATIONAL LEUKAEMIA FOUNDATION…
Following his own fight against this illness, Carreras has become heavily involved with the Foundation, and has donated the proceeds of several concerts.
He sees his contribution as paying his debt to society, to all those people who were supportive and generous while he was ill.
Carreras is optimistic about the future. He has seen an increasing number of younger generations coming to his concerts, and feels that this, in combination with the advent of new technologies, will help keep the music of his era alive.