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English translation: © Maria Kozlova
Opernwelt August 1979 - Interview with José Carreras
Leading a completely normal life
Mister Carreras, you are a very young man and already a top singer in great international demand. Is there a danger in such early fame?All world's great opera houses, most famous international festivalsand all recording companies fight for the singer José Carreras. It is a real temptation for a young artist which can hinder him in further development.
Everything depends on the attitude and mentality of this young singer. I do sing at the leading theaters of the world, participate in most important festivals and work for many recording companies.But I am absolutely sure that during a single performance an artistcan learn more than during six months of study. It is the stage and not the class room where he learns most important things. An artist should make a career when he and his voice are still young, strong and flexible.
Is the temptation of attractive offers hard to resist? Can one say no sometimes?
Many people think we only say yes. That is not so. If you are not ready for a certain task, if time has not come, you shouldn't accept this offer.  For me it is "Manon" and "Il Trovatore". I believe that only the singer himself can judge if the part is right for him or not. My greatest triumphs were the roles everyone considered too hard for
me: those in "Un Ballo in Maschera", "La Forza del Destino" and "Don Carlos". One should decide himself. Besides, I have a good adviser. I ask him prior to making such decisions.
Your next role is Radames in the Salzburg "Aida". Is this a border-line part for you?
I don't know yet. I have a good feeling after we recorded this opera. I believe Rudolph in Verdi's "Luisa Miller" is sometimes more demanding than Radames. So is the love duet in Ballo. Carlos and the tenor part of Verdi's Requiem are also very dramatic. I know of course what a hard and heroic part Radames is. I sing it in Salzburg, because I don't want to miss the opportunity to make a debut under Karajan. I am sure it will take four to five years till I sing it on stage again. The cooperation with Herbert von Karajan is a singular chance: it will be a very special, lyric version of "Aida".
Is Othello the next station?
Othello is a part that demands a certain maturity, not that of voice, but first of all of the person. It is a role one should sing at 40. I can still wait. Every tenor dreams of singing Othello some time. I don't think about it yet.
You are again recording disks with the conductor Lamberto Gardelli who is an expert in voices. At present you are recording Verdi's "Stiffelio".
Maestro Gardelli is a conductor who loves the voice, which is uncommon today. Since our first recording of Verdi's "Un Giorno di Regno" we often worked together, many times at the London Covent Garden. He helps the singers very much and he is an outstanding musician. I love to work with him.
Meeting with Karajan
We talked about Herbert von Karajan who introduced you at the Salzburg Festival. Verdi's "Don Carlos" brought you a singular success. Was it an important meeting?
It was very important in every aspect: for my career, but also for my artistic growth. It is a great chance to sing under Herbert von Karajan. The work with him is not complicated, because when he conducts you feel as though your father is at the conductor's stand. He knows exactly what he wants and demands the same of the singers whom he assists in every way. He has an incredible aura. Music for him is a very logical thing. He respects the composer and expects the same of his artists. You just have to be tuned in to the same wave-length, and everything will be quite easy.
Mister Carreras, you are not only a good singer, but also a great actor.  Have you met stage directors who were important for you career?
Let us take, for example, Rodolfo in "La Boheme". One should learn from many stage directors and sing this role a hundred times, - only then you will have a clear idea of this character. It is true for every role. The most important for a director is to know his artists, his "human resources", for every artist is different. It is a big difference if Domingo sings Werther, or Carreras. Such directors as Ponnelle, Schenk, etc. know this.
Apropos of Domingo: what does the challenge named Placido Domingo mean for the singer Jose Carreras?
I think the time of rivalries is over. I'd like to add that Placido Domingo is the greatest tenor of our time. I admire him. He is a great artist and a friend of mine. I've learned much from him, he helped me a lot at the beginning of my career. He still gives me good pieces of advice, thanks to his wider experience. I'd like to repeat: he is first a good friend, and second - one of the greatest singers of our time.
Do you have examples among singers of the past?
Every tenor has his favorites. My special preference is the art of Giuseppe di Stefano. He was my great example. When I heard his recordings ten or fifteen years ago, I wanted to give my listeners as much as he gave me. I don't speak about voice or technique, but of the feeling he put in his interpretations. He was a great singer.
Is singing a more intellectual process now, than it was fifty years ago?
I don't know if it is more intellectual, but I think it became more conscious in a way. First of all we pay more respect to the composer. The manner of singing is now different, although I believe the voices -
I mean the material - were better in the past.
So the material was better then, and now the use of it, or the 
technique, is better.
I think it was not the singing technique that improved, but the musical basis in general. Hard competition was created by recordings, and expectations of the public have grown.
You are an excellent Verdi and Puccini tenor. What do you think
about German repertoire?
There are two problems. First, it is the voice. My voice is too heavy for Mozart and too light for Wagner. Second, it is the language. I don't speak German, and I believe no one should sing in a language he does not understand. Text means very much to me. Opera is still theatre, you know.
Do you learn fast, Mister Carreras?
It depends on the role. When I first sang Alvaro in "La Forza del Destino", I already had a clear idea of this character for ten years. The interpretation of the text is important - one should impart the right sense to every word and every sentence. This is how the character is born. 
New tasks
Do you have new tasks?
At the opera after Radames in Salzburg I will sing Enzo in "La Gioconda". A the recording studio it will be Kanio under Muti (as well as "Cavalleria rusticana"), a new "Tosca" under Karajan, the first performance of Manrico - not on stage! - in a new recording of "Troubadour", and finally Pollione in a new recording of Bellini's
I know the potential of every singer is different, but still: how many performances a year should one have?
It depends on many things. The greatest problem is traveling. The golden mean is seventy to seventy five evenings a year, plus recording sessions. To maintain good form, the singer should lead a normal life without excess and ascetic restrictions. An absolutely normal life.
Thank you for this conversation, Mister Carreras.
Interviewer - Imre Fabian