© Maria Kozlova
|Opernwelt August 1979 - Interview
with José Carreras
|Leading a completely
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.
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
|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
|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".
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".
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.
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.
Domingo: what does the challenge named Placido Domingo mean for the singer
|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.
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
|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
|You are an
excellent Verdi and Puccini tenor. What do you think
|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.
|Do you have
|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.
- Imre Fabian