José Carreras was born in Barcelona in 1946. After
study at the Barcelona Conservatory he made his debut as Ismael in Nabucco.
The following season he was cast as Gennaro opposite Montserrat Caballé
in Lucrezia Borgia (CA548). He went on to
win the Verdi competition in Parma (1971) and sang in Ballo and
After his NYCO debut as Pinkerton (1972), he sang with that company for
three years in roles such as Alfredo, Rodolfo, Edgardo, Duke of Mantua and
His MET debut was as Cavaradossi in 1974. In 1976 he made his
Salzburg debut in Don Carlo.
At the outset of his career, Carreras' sweet, clear and
warm lyric tenor and handsome stage presence elicited comparisons with his
early idol Giuseppe di Stefano. Carreras didn't need much urging
from Karajan to push into heavier roles, tackling such weighty parts as
Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur as early as 1972.
I recall vividly, seeing Carreras in that role in a concert performance at
the Royal Festival Hall, London in 1974 (CA098). One
could see the sheer physical effort needed to produce Maurizio's
In 1988 his career came to an abrupt halt when he was
stricken with leukemia. After months in a Seattle hospital and treatment
including a bone marrow transplant, the disease was pronounced in
He went on to make an astonishing comeback with triumphant
potrayals of the title roles in Samson et Dalila and Stiffelio.
In 1990, Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti began their association as
"The Three Tenors" to vast commercial success. Part
of Carreras' fees went to his Leukemia Foundation.
"I couldn't bear a boring career of going around the
world year after year with a repertoire of about a dozen roles, even if I
were to sing them near-perfectly," Carreras said in the mid-eighties,
when he was riding the crest of his career. "This way when my
career is over I will at least have sung what I wanted to sing."
We can be grateful for his well-documented recording
career and the many live performances that have been preserved for
us. They give a comprehensive view of a widely admired singer.