The legendary tenor José Carreras

Early life

José Carreras is the stage name of Josep Maria Carreras i Coll, a tenor who is particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini. Born in Barcelona, he showed an early talent for music and particularly singing, at the age of 8 when he gave his first public performance, singing ''La donna é mobile”, accompanied by Magda Prunera on the piano, on the Spanish National Radio. He studied music in his hometown and made his debut on the operatic stage at age of 11, in Barcelona's great opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, singing the boy soprano role of Trujamán in Manuel de Falla’s El retablo de Maese Pedro. In the 1970s Carreras's career progressed rapidly, as he became a part of the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona with Nabucco and Lucrezia Borgia. In his long career he has had over 60 roles, performed in the world’s leading opera houses and made numerous recordings. His leading roles included some of the most famous sopranos and mezzo-sopranos of the day, later he also moved outside the strictly operatic repertoire with recitals of songs from zarzuela, musicals and operettas. In 1990 the first Three Tenors concert took place and brought José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti the fame that went far beyond the opera house. By 1999, the CD from the first Three Tenors' concert in Rome had sold an estimated 13 million copies, making it the best-selling classical recording of all time.


The legendary tenor José Carreras occupies a privileged position in the music world, due to his musical career, which started with early debuts at the world’s most prestigious opera houses and festivals. Furthermore, he collaborated with the most renowned orchestras, conductors like Herbert von Karajan and outstanding colleagues. His repertoire includes 65 operas, and a discography of over 160 recordings of 50 complete operas, oratories, popular und classical recitals. As one of the Three Tenors he gained fame with a wider audience in a series of mass concerts that began in 1990 and continued until 2003. They created an unprecedented impact in the world of opera and were followed by world-wide audiences of over two billion fans. Carreras also received numerous awards and distinctions for both his artistic and humanitarian work and has been awarded many gold and platinum discs. To date approximately 80 million copies of Carreras’ recordings have been sold. He has performed leading roles in several operatic movies. A Life Story, a report about his life and career was awarded an Emmy. He has also received numerous national and international prizes like Grammy, Brit Award, Laurence Olivier Award, Crystal award, The Golden Ring of the Stateopera in Vienna, as well as distinctions of States and Cities. For his cultural and humanitarian work he was awarded 16 times the honourable title Doctor honoris causa. In the last years José Carreras performed in numerous memorable concerts around the globe in prestigious concert halls as well as in special events, festivals and open-air concerts.


In its prime, Carreras's voice was considered one of the most beautiful tenor voices of the day. The Spanish critic, Fernando Fraga has described it as a lyric tenor with the generosity of a spinto, having "a noble timbre, richly coloured and sumptuously resonant". This is particularly true of the middle range of his voice. Fraga also noted, as has Carreras himself, that even in his youth the high notes of the tenor range were always somewhat problematic for him, and became more so as his career progressed. Like his idol, Giuseppe di Stefano, Carreras was also known for the beauty and expressiveness of his phrasing and for his passionate delivery.


Carreras is also known for his humanitarian work as the president of the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation (La Fundació Internacional Josep Carreras per a la Lluita contra la Leucèmia), which he established in Barcelona, following his own recovery from the disease in 1988 and later established branches in the United States, Switzerland and Germany. Currently the international José Leukaemia Foundation is one of his most important goals and priorities. He felt the need to return something to society. The aim of his foundation is – leukemia must be curable, always and for everyone!