This much I know: José Carreras

I think I was born for singing. At the age of 11 I had already sung a role in the Opera House of Barcelona.

It was quite a big role as I replaced a soprano who became sick. I really think that singing is my life and I consider myself a very fortunateperson.

I studied chemistry for a while and when I was in the army I became a not very successful gardener... but I always wanted to become a tenor. When I saw the movie The great Caruso with Mario Lanza in the title role I was clear I wanted to be a tenor.

My elder brother says I got on his nerves sometimes; I was constantly singing. When my family emigrated from Spain to Argentina because of the repression of the Franco regime I was even singing on board that boat “entertaining” the passengers.

I returned to the opera stage this year after nearly eight years of absence. I played the title role in the new opera “El Juez” (The Judge). It was a big challenge for me but I loved it. We got standing ovations. That made me really happy.

In 2015 we will continue in St. Petersburg and Vienna. I still love to go on stage and perform. Maybe for more years to come...

My biggest challenge in life so far has been my fight against leukemia. My chances of survival were not very good but I believe there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Apart from the treatment I received, classical music helped me to sustain difficult moments a lot.

Working for the “José Carreras Leukemia Foundation” is an important part of my life. I try to give something back to society because I received so much support when I was very ill. So far my Foundation has raised over €220 million,which we have invested in outpatient clinics, scientific research, bone marrow data banks and so on. We are also investing €14 million in the construction of a new scientific research centre near Barcelona. The opening will be next year.

I think I am disciplined. On performance days, I have a routine. After a light breakfast of orange juice, yoghurt and croissant, five hours before performance I will have a light lunch with tomato pasta or chicken then a little walk because it is important to have some oxygen— and after that a little rest and then the countdown to the concert begins with vocalising, going to the venue in time. I normally arrive at least one hour before the concert, then a short rehearsal and getting dressed...

Growing up I was quite normal, I think. Like other kids. Playing football or Pelota — a traditional catalan ballsport, I even played basketball quite well despite the fact that I was not very tall.

I really enjoy being with my family. I am a grandfather of five and love being with the little ones. They are so funny.

The best advice I ever received is that you will not have a long career without discipline.

My favourite place is my home country Catalonia. Either in Barcelona— a vibrant and wonderful city and home of my favourite football club FC Barcelona — or at the lovely seaside. This is where my roots are. I am a true Mediterranean guy.

The trait I most admire in other people is honesty.

If I could change one thing in our society, I would stop wars.

Maybe I will disappoint you, but if I could be reborn as anyone else for a day I would just be José Carreras.

So far life has taught me to be grateful for what it has offered to me.

My advice for aspiring singers is that discipline is — apart from talent — vital for a career. One has to work hard every day in order to improve and the interpretation of words and music is very important too.

I’m looking forward to performing with Katherine Jenkins in Cork — we know each other as we’ve performed together before. Katherine is a beautiful lady and a wonderful singer. Apart from our solo pieces we will also perform some wonderful duets like the drinking song from “La Traviata”.

José Carreras and Katherine Jenkins will perform together in the Irish Examiner sponsored concert in Cork at Musgrave Park on Saturday, June 15, 2015. Tickets from €45 are on sale now from  and Promusica, Cork.


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