Carreras: "God gave me Time as a Gift"

Grazie, come sempre a Ellie e Maria per aver segnalato questa intervista e per aver ritradotto la traduzione. Escludo che José l'abbia sostenuta in tedesco... ;)


He is one of the greatest tenors of all time, and is now coming to Hamburg. Diana Zinkler in conversation with José Carreras about the importance of time, the fear of dying and the feeling for the right moments.

José Carreras is waiting in a suite in a hotel in Leipzig. He feels not very good, is a bit tired and has something in his stomach, as he says. Therefore, his management give me a deadline for this interview. " 20 minutes?", the person who is coordinating the interviews asks. But it is not a real question. Rather an indication.

After all, José Carreras is finally an international star. This year he celebrated his 50-year stage anniversary. Next 13th of December he comes to the Hamburg Laeiszhalle.

He smiles to welcome me. He wears a fawn Leinenjackett and a white silk scarf around his neck. Quite opera star, a male diva with good-natured eyes.

He has a lot behind them, various relations, a career that can only be compared with the ones of the other two great tenors, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, and a serious illness, leukemia. What does he think about life, the great scene, the bright light and the shadow, how he takes all of this? What does he feel about time? An interview under time pressure.

Journal: I would like to speak to you about time.
José Carreras: Well, time. In Greek "Chronos".

Journal: How is your relation with time?
Jose Carreras: I think time is something very important for all of us. In an ideal world, we should have time for everything you want to do and to fulfil the obligations everyone has. I think it's important to have a good relationship with time. We need time for joy, time for work and time for relaxation. And time in general. I think I'm a person that takes time very seriously.

Journal:Yes, how?
José Carreras:I try, for example, to be very punctual. Always. I'm about 99 percent on time. Many people think that time is elastic but unfortunately it is not so. You may fill intermediate times with this and that but that is wrong, one must look at what is happening and above all one must be punctual.

Journal:How does that influence your work?
José Carreras: How much I practice depends somewhat on whether I have a performance or not.

Journal: And if you have one?
José Carreras: Sometimes the voice needs training, sometimes a break. You have to learn how to feel that I always say that the problem with singers is that we do not depend only on our talent, on our preparation, on our professionalism, we depend also on our vocal chords. They can be attacked by all of what you eat, how much you sleep, drink, talk, the air conditioning and pollution. There are hundreds of things that one must be careful about, and you must to be very disciplined. But you must not see this discipline with a too dramatic look. A voice is capricious. And especially the voice of a tenor is capricious. (At this point, Carreras laughs about himself.) Over the years you learn to deal with it. For example, one can not make too many performances. And if one has not sung for a long time, one must begin training at least one week before the new engagement. At least two hours a day.

Jounal: This year, you celebrated your 50th Stage anniversary. You had your first performance with eleven years in your home town, in Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu. Then were you so well prepared?
José Carreras: At the time, not yet, although I had studied music. But my piano teacher had been with me singing and practicing. I mean, with eleven years old you still sing with instinct not with intuition. By that time I sang with the unconsciousness of a child. For me singing was like a game. But, at the same time, I also took it very seriously, I prepared the role for almost one year. Barcelona is my home town.

Journal: And in later years?
José CarrerasEach person has his own abilities. For example, I learn music quickly. Of course, there are operas for which we must also practice hard. In order to interpret it correctly you do need intuition. Technically, I can learn an opera in a week. Then you need to go deep in the character and, of course, to practice with directors. Sometimes you need years to really understand a role even if you sing that role often. You discover something new each time. This is the so fascinating about my job.

Journal: So the way you perform your roles changed over the years...
José Carreras: Yes, the man and the artist grow up together. So it is perhaps when the man changes that the way how he performs a role also change. Because over the years there are also changes in our emotions and experiences.

Journal: How would you say your prime Don Jose in Carmen, changed over the years?
José Carreras: I have performed Don José for more than 200 times. The whole structure of the role is in my head, in my heart and in my soul. But yes, of course, there are certain aspects that change.

Journal: What do you feel if you have achieved a great successes and the curtain rises again and people do on applauding?
José Carreras: For many years I could not really understand it. I would not know how to answer that question. I just thought it was an unbelievable feeling. But now I know what it is. I feel more and more a great gratitude for the people who accept me as an artist and as a person. And it makes me very grateful that I am capable of transmitting great feelings and that people are happy for that. It is an immense feeling, to live such moments. I cannot think about anything that can be compared to that.

Journal: Is it the same with the relation between the artist and his work? Once he has created it, it's like a child who has grown up.
José Carreras: No, there is a difference between an artist and a performer. The artist ends his artwork, or a writer finishes his book. They are creative. They do not get the immediate reaction of the audience. Of course, this is something that we performers immediately get and makes our lives easier. Many artists live their lives without getting the recognition they deserve. On the other hand, painters and writers can wait for the right moment of inspiration. For us, when the curtain opens, we must be fully prepared and immediately give the best of us.

Journal: In your work you always need to be on top form. A single second may sometimes decide the whole evening and the work of the past months. You must be very disciplined.
José Carreras: I have really many bad qualities, but one of my good side is that I can be very disciplined. But music will also help you to be very disciplined. Because music is very precise, music is like mathematics. If you are not very concentrated, you're lost.

Journal: When does your concentration work?
José Carreras:There are many stages of concentration before a performance, but the peak is reached in the moment when the curtain goes up. Concentration is fundamental.

Journal: Is it sometimes difficult to get the right feeling to deliver a role?
José Carreras: The secret is always in the words you are singing. The most important thing is the house of emotions, what we call soul. That is the engine. Then, these feelings are sent through the brain, which works like a filter, and then the voice is just, lets say, the vehicle, the instrument.

Journal: What do you usually do before a performance?
José Carreras: Of course the adrenaline is rising. I'm right there. Usually two hours before it starts Then I warm up my voice, put on makeup and so on. I try to be with myself.
Journal: And when do you know if a concert will turn out to be a good or a bad one?
José Carreras: That is something we can understand already after a few bars. If it is not so good, something that happens in, perhaps, 25 percent of the cases, you must then try to have the situation under your control. The most important thing is always to bring a concert to an end, even if you are sick.

Journal: In your career you have experienced many special moments. Did you previously guess that your appearance with Pavarotti and Domingo would turn out to be a success? And that people would never get enough from you as a trio?
José Carreras: I did not guess that. Our meeting was the beginning of an entertainment project, a charity appearance in the context of the World Cup in Italy. You know what that is? (He actually asks if the interviewer knows about the World Cup finals.) Yes? O.K. Someone had the idea, and we did it it. Don't want to seem arrogant but we had not the smallest idea that it would turn out to be a phenomena in the music world. We thought we would just have fun. We had all had a good relationship, but over the years it became even better. The concerts with the two of them were had a wonderful experience. (Carreras says it in emphatic way) (The 20 minutes are around. The lady who has the timetable, nods. Still another question. One, which he gladly answered.)

Journal: What was your most beautiful moment on stage?
José Carreras: There were so many! But should I highlight a few I would mention: My debut at La Scala, in 1975. And perhaps the night when I realized that I was born to sing. (Because time is short, the interviewer does not ask when did that happen and also does not ask if his performance with eleven is part of these most beautiful moments). And the other really emotional moment was my first concert after my illness. After a year of illness and treatment I stepped back for the first time in Barcelona, my home town, on. That was 1988. (The lady from management is not responding. So interview just goes on.)

Journal: How did you spent time during your illness?
José Carreras: I had a lot of time to think, obviously. About my priorities in life. In real life. And the all time was like a race and every minute was a minute less until becoming healthy again, every minute was a minute less until the moment I would overcome my illness.

Journal: How important was your career by that time?
José Carreras: One thing is your career, which turns out to be a race, also, another thing is your struggle for life. That is why both things cannot be compared. Only if I survive could I go back to my old life. Thank God I was able to. He gave me time. (24 minutes have gone. We stands up. He is grateful for the interview. Me too.)

Journal: What are you doing now?
José Carreras: I have an interview. And then I will rest. Eat a snack and then read.

Journal: Which was the last book you just read?
José Carreras: Was reading three books at the same time and have just finished them. I think now I will read, "L'arte della Gioia" by Goliarda Sapienza.

Published on the 29th of November 2008


  1. ..un curioso destino mi ha portato sul tuo mega-sito musicale, semplicemente cliccando stamane su "prossimo blog"! bellissima la grafica, una cascata di parole e immagini...contenuti ottimi per gli "addetti ai lavori" ...semplice la tua immagine, breve, solare..
    Pensa che leggendo il tuo nick, anch'esso musicale e affascinante, ho ricordato il mitico "Faber", che da ligure ho ascoltato fin dall'infanzia! E' quasi parte del mio dna :-) e' quella quota di anarchia che non riesco ad eliminare...lo conosci e lo apprezzi?
    un saluto da emilius

  2. Dio gli ha fatto un altro regalo in più, la saggezza. le sue parole ne hanno un sacco! Bravo, Josep. Complimenti! :-)

  3. Emilius: grazie per i complimenti. Certo Luvi ricorda il nome della figlia di De André, anche se il mio nome è diverso. Certo che apprezzo Faber, anche se non ho la sua intera discografia, ma è un icona della tradizione dei cantautori italiani.

    Gracias Maria Teresa. No sé porque me sale espontaneo dar las gracias a todos los que hacen cumplidos a Josep o que se dan cuenta de sus calidades. Es verdad, es un hombre muy savio, y quizà es por eso también que me encanta tanto.

  4. No,Luvi. Siamo noi chi dobbiamo ringraziarti il tuo lavoro su il nostro Josep, sei molto brava!!

    Mots petonets, guapa!:-)

  5. grazie a Dio che ha dato a noi il regalo di lasciarci fra noi un uomo come Josep...


Post a Comment

Recent comments