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The World's Greatest Tenors - José Carreras

Updated on October 19, 2012

Jose Carreras

The World's Greatest Tenors

Cast your vote for Jose Carreras

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The World’s Greatest Tenors – José Carreras

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The first time that I heard Jose Carreras sing was during a Public Broadcasting presentation of The Three Tenors concert recorded at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Singing with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, he obviously didn’t stand out although he sang very well.

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A year or two later he came to Detroit and sang at the Fisher Theater and I was able to listen to him in person. The Fisher Theater is small, probably less than 1500 seats and he stood on the stage all alone and sang for 60 minutes with only a piano to accompany him. This time he sang a number of songs in Spanish, his native language, and they were all outstanding.

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The last time that I saw him was at Tiger Stadium in Detroit where he appeared again as one of The Three Tenors. Compared to Pavarotti and Domingo he was small and almost frail. I remarked to my wife that he reminded me of Niles Crane from the TV series "Frasier". My wife was amused. Still Carreras put every ounce of his strength into every song so that you could see the veins on his head stand out. He sang very well again.

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It was a miracle that Jose Carreras was even alive and able to sing. Only a few years earlier, in 1987, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and given only a ten- percent chance of surviving. He underwent an extensive series of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant.

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There are rumors that Pavarotti and Domingo helped pay off his enormous hospital bills and that The Three Tenors concert series was initiated to re-introduce Jose Carreras to the world – it worked.

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In 1988, Carreras founded the Jose Carreras International Leukemia Foundation to encourage research, to increase bone marrow donations and to provide support and free accommodations for leukemia patients and their families.

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Jose Carreras was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1946. At the age of six, his interest in singing was inspired when he saw Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso. He gave his first public performance on Spanish National Radio at the age of eight and his debut at the Barcelona Opera House at age eleven, but he really didn’t achieve worldwide fame until he sang with the three tenors.

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In later years, Carreras’s recording and concerts concentrated more on Neapolitan songs and light classical music. He also performs in at least 20 charity concerts a year and his annual live television benefits in Leipzig, Germany has raised more than 71 million euros for his leukemia foundation.

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Rather than present the traditional opera recordings, which would tempt you to compare him to Pavarotti, I have selected lesser-known recordings that better display his style of singing. In another time, Jose Carreras may have stood out, but what chance did he have when he was up against Richard Tucker, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, three of the greatest tenors of all time. Still he has a beautiful voice and he deserves to be heard.

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THE WORLD'S GREATEST TENORS

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To visit my complete list of the world’s best tenors along with limited biographical information and links to their individual Hubs, go to:

The Worlds Greatest Tenors



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Barcelona, Spain Montage

Barcelona, Spain - Birth place of Jose Carreras

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    • profile image

      aml 

      5 years ago

      pavarotti had great high notes. i didn't like his sound and he was and is overrated. he is too fat for the opera stage but he does shine in concerts. to compare him to domingo or mario lanza his warmth is lacking this is where domingo and lanza are at their best. this my opinion pavarotti can be boring and he is limited on his repetory.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I actually think that Alagna is a better singer than Pavarotti, but maybe because i have seen him singing and acting in one of my two favourite operas, 'Don Carlo' with another singer I really rate highly, the American baritone, Thomas Hampson.

      And Juan Diego Flórez doesn't need power, his clarity and delivery and mastery of the high notes is stunning

    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      7 years ago

      I have listened to a few of their recordings and they are very good. However, they do not have the power and depth of a Pavarotti and they have yet to past the test of time of a Richard Tucker who sang at the Met for more than 30 years. Ask me again in 10 years. But please keep your comments coming. I have lost touch with the young tenors because of more pressing matters in my life. We are never too old to learn.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      RJ, please don't think I am being patronising. I just read what I had written, and I hang my head in shame.

      I know nothing more than the next man, but I just know what I like, and these two guys are magnificent. Please give them a try.

    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      7 years ago

      I appreciate your comments. You are probably more knowledgeable about opera singers than I am. I am not familiar with Alaga or Florez but I will certainly look them up.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Isn't it amazing that so many famous tenors became enthused by listening to the amazing voice of Mario Lanza? I remember, when I was young, it became quite fashionable to put down that great Tenor's voice. He was wonderful.

      One of my favourite tenors, Roberto Alagna, started off by being fascinated by Lanza.

      I have never much liked Carrera's voice, but the 'Nessun dorma' you have chosen quite impresses me.

      Apparently, when Carreras was suffering from the cancer, Domingo contributed to the man’s bills etc, although the two men had had a really intense and bitter argument that had gone on for some years.

      I liked your hub, and have marked it up accordingly, but do you know Alagna's voice, and have you heard the spectacularly beautiful (almost countertenor) voice of Juan Diego Flórez?

      His ‘Granada’ will blow your socks off.

      I know it’s naughty to do this, but there is a hub written that is entitled: ‘Divas plus a Tenor' or ‘Divas, plus a Divo’

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