Carreras, José

Carreras, José
b. 1946, Barcelona
   Opera singer
   Known the world over as one of the famous "three tenors" (with Pavarotti and Domingo), José (Josep in his native Catalan) Carreras hails from a workingclass area of Barcelona. Carreras" singing talent was recognized at an early age, and his love of opera began when he saw a film of Caruso in Barcelona in 1953. At the age often he played the part of the little boy who introduces the puppet show to Don Quixote in Manuel de Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show). This part is normally mimed by a boy actor while a soprano sings offstage, but such was the quality of the young Carreras" voice that he sang the part himself. He acquired a thorough knowledge of music at an early age, and, following a brief period during which he studied chemistry at university, he dedicated himself fully to opera, as an exponent of the bel canto style.
   Carreras made his official début in 1970 at the Liceu Theatre in Barcelona—one of the major opera centres of Europe—playing opposite Montserrat Caballé in Lucrezia Borgia. His international career took off in the early 1970s, with performances at London's Festival Hall and the New York City Hall. He played Alfredo in La Traviata at London's Covent Garden in 1974. He was often typecast as the Romantic hero, and played dashing roles in Tosca, La Bohème, Werther and Don Carlos. He is best-known for the role which is his own favourite: the jealous Don José in Bizet's Carmen. He has also played a number of political roles (as in Giordano's Andrea Chénier in 1979), which Carreras has associated with his own strong sense of justice and democracy.
   By the early 1980s he was famous enough to give solo concerts. He also ventured into other areas, recording West Side Story with Bernstein and playing the part of Rodolfo in a film version of La Bohème. It was while shooting this film that it was discovered that Carreras had leukaemia. He was given only a 10 percent chance of surviving the illness, but he not only recovered but, remarkably, was able fully to resume his singing career. He founded the José Carreras International Leukae-mia Foundation, and raised money for it at selected concerts. The most celebrated of these was the Three Tenors concert at the Football World Cup in Italy in 1990. The tenors have subsequently repeated the experience (for example at the USA World Cup in 1994), and Carreras was musical director at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992.
   See also: opera
   DAVID GEORGE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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