José Carreras


José Carreras occupies a privileged position in the music world. Born in Barcelona, he studied music in his hometown. In 1970 he launched his professional career at the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona with Nabucco and Lucrezia Borgia. His meteoric musical career resulted in early debuts at the world’s most prestigious opera houses and festivals, among them the Teatro alla Scala in Milan (Un ballo in maschera, 1975), the New York Metropolitan Opera (Tosca, 1974), the San Francisco Opera (La Bohème, 1973), the Wiener Staatsoper (Rigoletto, 1974), London’s Royal Opera House (La traviata, 1974), the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich (Tosca, 1974), the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Un ballo in maschera, 1976), the festivals of Salzburg (Don Carlo, 1976), Aix-en-Provence (Roberto Devereux, 1977), Edinburgh (Verdi’s Requiem, 1982) and Verona (Carmen, 1984). His stunning opera career has also featured such operas as Stiffelio and Jérusalem, and later he re-discovered Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s great opera Sly, which he sang at numerous opera houses and which was also recorded live.
Following a break, José Carreras returned to the operatic stage in 2014 in the lead role in El Juez. The media quoted his return as a “triumphant comeback to the opera stage” and “the star tenor was celebrated with standing ovations, deafening applause und loud shouts of bravo!”
In the course of his long career, José Carreras has collaborated with the most renowned orchestras and orchestral conductors, among them Herbert von Karajan, and with preeminent stage directors including Franco Zeffirelli. His repertoire includes sixty-six operas, and his extensive concert repertoire includes over six hundred titles in the most diverse styles ranging from the baroque to contemporary music. Together with his opera activities, he has given frequent recitals at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and he also gives concerts at major arenas, concert halls and in the open air.
His extensive discography includes over one hundred and sixty recordings, notably fifty complete operas, oratorios and popular and classical recitals. He has been awarded numerous gold and platinum discs worldwide. Altogether, approximately eighty-five million recordings featuring José Carreras have been sold internationally.
José Carreras has also performed the lead roles in several operatic films as well as for mainstream cinema. A Life Story was awarded an International Emmy Award. José Carreras has received numerous national and international prizes, distinctions of states and cities and has also been awarded the title of Doctor honoris causa by sixteen universities.
Since 1988, in addition to his professional activities, he has presided with total dedication and enthusiasm over the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation, established in Barcelona and with branches in the USA, Switzerland and Germany. Currently the international José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation is one of his most important projects and priorities. In 2013 the foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 1992 José Carreras was engaged as Musical Director of the memorable Olympic Games held in Barcelona.
The Three Tenors concerts, presented internationally by José Carreras together with his colleagues Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, are now the stuff of legend. Followed by worldwide audiences of over two billion, they have created an unprecedented impact on the world of opera.
In recent years, José Carreras has performed many memorable concerts around the globe in the most prestigious concert halls as well as at special events, festivals and open air concerts; he appeared as the star guest in a huge open air concert with the Wiener Philharmoniker on the famous Schlossquadrat in Vienna under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Together with Plácido Domingo and the Norwegian star Sissel Kyrkjebø, Carreras participated in Moscow’s legendary Christmas concerts at Gostiny Dvor, and in 2012 he appeared in the auditorium of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. He also starred in the spectacular open air gala concert A Tribute to Lehár together with his colleagues Plácido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Eva Lind and Andrea Rost. Together with Gloria Estefan, Quincy Jones and Andy Garcia, Carreras performed at the opening of the new Concert Hall in Miami (Florida). José Carreras performed the opening hymn for the New Seven Wonders of the World at the Benfica Stadium in Lisbon, an event that was broadcast worldwide. He has appeared in major open air concerts in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Naples, Lisbon and Munich among other cities for between sixty and eighty thousand people. Together with Plácido Domingo, Sting and Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras performed in Petra (Jordan) in a tribute concert to his great colleague Luciano Pavarotti. Carreras also performed as a star guest in a gala on the occasion of the opening of the Shanghai Expo which was seen by over a billion people on TV. In 2014 he performed at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in Sochi.
The years 2012, 2013 and 2014 brought a series of concerts all over the world including in Asia, South America, Europe, the Emirates, Oman, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel, as well as a series of exclusive Christmas concerts in Vienna, Sofia, Budapest, Bratislava, Braunschweig, London and Moscow; he performed a concert at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre with his colleague Plácido Domingo, and on China’s CCTV 1 he appeared together with star pianist Lang Lang for an audience of five hundred million. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of his stage debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, he returned to that illustrious venue in 2004. At that memorable evening Carreras gave a most moving portrayal of the poor poet Sly in the eponymous opera by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. The concluding part of the programme saw him perform as Don José in Zeffirelli’s production of Carmen.
In September 2013 he gave yet another memorable concert at the Wiener Staatsoper and, on this occasion, received the Golden Ring of Honour of the Wiener Staatsoper. The audience showed its appreciation with a standing ovation lasting forty minutes. The Austrian Post honoured his remarkable career with a “José Carreras” stamp, proceeds of which benefit the José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation. Recent recordings include the CD Belle Époque featuring works by such composers as Satie, Ravel, Schreker, Schoenberg and Puccini, which was released by Sony. In September 2011, Sony also released Carreras’ recording Mediterranean Passion. That CD consists of beautiful songs from Italy, Spain and his homeland of Catalonia. The CD was praised by Britain’s Classic FM magazine as one of the best CDs: “... it’s clear from this new release that a return to the romantic song repertoire will guarantee packed concerts. With this material, his lyrical vocal qualities are reminiscent of Caruso, with that trademark impassioned delivery...” The 2013-14 season saw the release of his latest CD 25 – Meraviglioso (EOM). For this CD, José Carreras joined forces with such internationally acclaimed stars as José Feliciano, pianist Lang Lang, violinist David Garrett, accordion player Richard Galliano and the wonderful trumpeter Alison Balsom. In December 2014, the festive CD Christmas in Moscow was released by Sony. For this recording, José Carreras joined forces with Plácido Domingo and the Norwegian star Sissel Kyrkjebø.
In December 2014 came the twentieth anniversary celebration of the José Carreras Gala, which was broadcast live annually eighteen times by the German TV station ARD. The programme was seen by over seven million people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, raising almost seven and a half million Euros for the Carreras Foundation. Stars including Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, André Rieu, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, David Garrett, Il Divo, Harry Belafonte, Lionel Richie, Klaus Meine (Scorpions), Paul Potts and many more besides have appeared in these Carreras galas over the years. In December 2013, for the first time the José Carreras Gala was broadcast to great acclaim by SKY-TV not only in Germany but also in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In 2014 the twentieth José Carreras Gala was broadcast by Sat.1 Gold to great acclaim.
Among numerous other awards, in London José Carreras received the prestigious RIT AWARD’, presented to him by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo and the Duchess of Cornwall. He also received Germany’s most prestigious ECHO award, the St George Award at the Semperoper in Dresden, the prestigious Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos and his sixteenth (!) Doctor honoris causa. His new biography From the Heart was published in 2012. Currently the José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation is investing twelve million Euros in the construction of a new leukaemia research centre based in Barcelona.
Supporting scientific research has been one of the biggest priorities of the José Carreras Foundation. Since 1988, the various José Carreras Foundations around the world have invested more than two hundred million Euros in research and have financed over four hundred research projects. Yet in spite of all this progress, and even though the percentage of patients cured has risen considerably, one in four children and half of all adult patients still die from leukaemia.
This is why the José Carreras Foundation has decided to give a little bit more. The commitment to the patient is its raison d’être and this is why it is fundamentally important to increase scientific research activity focussed on leukaemia and other malignant blood diseases. This is why, in partnership with the public administration, the foundation has embarked upon a historic and unprecedented project – the first Spanish research centre to focus exclusively on leukaemia and other blood-related diseases, and one of few such centres in the world.

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