Josep Carreras said good-bye to Bulgaria with an unforgettable concert at the Arena Armeec in Sofia

Last Saturday, 11 May, Josep Carreras experienced what is supposed to be his last performance in Bulgaria, a very special concert at the Arena Armeec in Sofia. He was accompanied by soprano Ilina Mihaylova, tenor Rossen Nenchev, and the National Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by David Giménez.

(Photo: Булфото)
At his arrival in Bulgaria, Carreras was welcomed by Bulgarian tenor Rossen Nentchev, who has  successfully participated to the latest three editions of the José Carreras International Singing Masterclass at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, Italy. From masterclass student to co-partner on stage.

When he was asked about his flight, Carreras defined it as "long" and explained that from Barcelona it is like going to New York.
However, Bulgaria means a lot to him, as he has a lot of friends and colleagues from this country, such as former footballer Hristo Stoichkov, bass Nicolai Ghiaurov, and Ghena Dimitrova, whom he mad his debut with in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera in Parma, 1972.

Carreras arrived in Sofia 3 days before the performance, in order to have enough time to rehearse for the concert and to meet his tight agenda of commitments. In facts, besides attending the presentation of a book about Ghena Dimitrova, on 9 May he received the Highest title of Doctor Honoris Causa at the National Academy of Music Prof. Pancho Vladigerov.

He was honored by the hand of the Rector himself, and expressed his gratitude for that; in particular, he said that it was a privilege and a stimulus to keep trying to make his profession the best one in the world and to keep on with his social commitment.

Then, he recalled his very first visit in Bulgaria on occasion of the celebration of bass Nicolai Ghiaurov' 50th birthday, and he joked "I had just received my First Communion".

Finally, he stressed the fundamental role of music, as the best communicative mode among people.


On the eve of the concert, Josep Carreras took part to a TV live show, Slavi's Show ob bTV channel, and talked about his friendship and memories with Hristo Stoichkov, the reasons why he is world-wide known ad JOSÉ (Spanish) and not as Josep (original name in Catalan), which are mainly political and date back to the time he started his career, even though he totally identifies himself as JOSEP

After explaining how the idea for the Three Tenors came up and how it increased their mutual affection and esteem, he had a few more words to describe what kind of guy was Luciano Pavarotti and his special charisma. 

"Why farewell?", that's a good point. After hesitating a few second he said that after 50 years it's time, and he has to be very happy for such a long career.
He has started his farewell tour over two years ago trying to perform back again in all the places he has sung, and admitted that it's being difficult and it will be due to the great respect and affection of fans.

Furthermore, he explained that only 20% of times an artist is totally satisfied with his performance, that most of the times one need to play the match in centre field waiting the right moment to push forward, and that finally there are a few times in which finishing a concert is a sort of miracle because you are not in fine conditions.

As a performer he stated that what matters most in an opera performance is the right portray of a character and how your partner react to your interpretation. As he is usually answer to this question, he said that choosing a favourite aria is like choosing among your kids or grand-kids; your favourite still has to come. At the end, a female choir plus a soloist sang a Bulgarian song for him.


Before spending a few words about the concert, it must be said that due to a huge demand, additional sectors of the Arena Armeec have been made available and further tickets have been sold. In facts, Josep Carreras, his Bulgarian co-partners, and the National Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by David Giménez have been welcomed by a full house. The event was sold out.


Luckily, this time there are lots of videos of the concert (click on each title to be redirected to the video), which has lasted over two hours. 

In a very good vocal shape and with his typical, passionate finesse, Josep Carreras said good-bye to the warm Bulgarian audience with some of the most appreciated songs of his current, varied repertoire, from T'estimo to The Impossible Dream, from L'Ultima Canzone to Pecché, from Chitarra Romana to Musica Proibita and amazing renditions of Neapolitans Passione, Core 'ngrato and Dicitencello Vuje

Soprano Ilina Mihaylova sang with him Je te veux and a few songs on her own, such as Les Filles de Cadix, Meine Lippen, Sie küssen so heiss, and O mio babbino caro

On his turn, tenor Rossen Nenchev honored Bulgarian audience with a traditional song, My Bulgaria, my love, Funiculì Funiculà and 'O Sole Mio, and joined his master in a duet version of Non ti scordar di me. The three of them joined together in an amazing finale with Brindisi from La Traviata.

Towards the end of the concert, Josep Carreras and all the artists on stage received enthusiastic ovations and have been gifted with bunch of flowers. In particular, Carreras received a lovely stuffed lion, as you can see on most photos.

(Photo: Булфото)