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José Carreras (b1946)

The youngest of three children, José Carreras was born into a working-class family who moved to Argentina in 1951, seeking a better life, only to return the following year. Already a keen singer, at the age of six he saw the film The Great Caruso, starring Mario Lanza, after which his ardent singing of ‘La donna è mobile’ from Rigoletto eventually convinced his parents and grandfather, an amateur baritone, to fund music lessons. Initially Carreras learnt piano with Magda Prunera, and at the age of eight began to study at the Barcelona Conservatory. Having made his radio singing début at the same age, his operatic stage début came at only eleven in Barcelona’s opera house, the Liceu, as Trujamán in Falla’s El retablo de Maese Pedro, quickly followed by the boy soprano part in the second act of La Bohème. His studies continued: at the Liceu Conservatory, privately with Francisco Puig, and later with Juan Ruax, who encouraged him to audition for his first tenor rôle. This was Flavio/Norma, which he sang at the Liceu in January 1970, catching the attention of Montserrat Caballé in the title part, who invited him to sing Gennaro opposite herself as Lucrezia Borgia at the Liceu in December of the same year. Caballé did much to promote his early career, her brother acting as his manager until the mid-1990s.




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