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COVER, Magazine, June 1985
by Peter Kupfer    - English translation: © Maria Kozlova
Interview José Carreras 
He is the greatest tenor of the world for one, and second or third bestfor others who prefer to him Placido Domingo or Luciano Pavarotti. However, for almost all he is undoubtedly the most beautiful opera hero.The Barcelona born 37-year-old opera hero is busy working for over ten years. This alone is unusual enough. "Since I started very young, I am now an old stager," jokes Carreras. After he and Leonard Bernstein recorded the West Side Story in New York, the maestro told him: "This is my last West Side Story recording. I can't find a better Tony." Bernstein's opponent Herbert von Karajan brought out Carmen in Salzburg 1985 on a single condition: Carreras and Agnes Baltsa had to be the great couple. With Carreras (who has a villa near Barcelona with a swimming pool and tennis court but lives there four weeks a year) one can talk about many things: politics, women, opera, etc., but his answers will always be ambiguous. It is almost impossible to weaken his reserve. If only you do not talk about the FC Barcelona. Here the man feed 25 000 DM per performance  starts looking like some Herr Meier at the football stadium: "You x-legged want to throw a 50-meter-pass!" Carreras always runs risks, like a football player at a 40-meter-pass, but he says: "Maradona has a harder time."
COVER: Women go into raptures not only at your high Cs. Your good look is anadvantage, isn't it?
CARRERAS: I have appeal. Pavarotti, too, has appeal, and he weighs 150 kg. However,I gladly admit my appearance is an advantage.
You mean gray threads in your black hair, your amber-colored eyes.Does this help to have success with women?
I know what I could have, and this is enough.
Is there a type of woman that makes you helpless?
Maybe mighty, emancipated ones.
What about your stage partners? You and Katja Ricciarelli are a couple,aren't you?
We've known each other for a long time, and we like each other verymuch. You know, a stage partner is someone you have great respect for.Of course you may like one more and others a little less. For example,Agnes Baltsa is an excellent partner and a real friend of mine, which is evident even on stage.
You travel very much; you are on the journey almost 80 percent of theyear. There must be little love affairs.
It is possible. But it is not necessarily so. Besides, I find an interviewmust have limits. I don't have to give away everything about my privatelife. It is hardly interesting to someone.
So your Casanova image is something that comes only from the stage?
Let everyone think what he wants. I am not a Casanova who - like I'verecently read about one colleague - loudly declares he needs a newwoman every night. The truth is that after a performance one is emotional and cannot go to sleep right away. In my case it is so.
What do you do then?
Sometimes I take a walk, or go eat; from time to time I go to the casino.
Are you a gambler?
I love risk. But it has to be predictable. I always set myself a limit.
I've heard once you won 90 000 DM in a casino in Vienna.
Yes, it is true. But I don't get a swelled head. A gambler is always alooser in the end. As I told you, I have limits.
But you have no limits with singing?
Now I am at the best age for a tenor. I gathered the necessary experience.I got on the stage when I was very young, and then one can't avoidmistakes. My rule still is this: I better sing every night to my full capacity,but not up to my 60th birthday. I don't want to disappoint my public.
It is a dangerous path. One can burn out like a candle.
Yes, the danger is there, but with time you learn to appreciate your bodyas an instrument. I am very disciplined: I don't drink or smoke; I lead ahealthy life as far as possible. Our job is very demanding. Just thinkabout constant traveling and changing climatic zones. It is a greatphysical strain, let alone the nerve one needs at a premiere.
How do you prepare for it?
I usually take a one-hour walk. Often I come to the opera house twohours before the performance. I need the atmosphere to be charged.Then I warm up - and sometimes become very nervous. I feel great responsibility. Being an opera singer is sometimes very hard, andsometimes it is wonderful. But I need this constant challenge; I am areal risk addict. During the performance you often feel like ropewalker without a safety net. It can be a certain hazard but I am sure DiegoMaradona has a harder time.
What do you feel after a successful premiere?
I am very relaxed and easy, almost entranced.
What about a less successful?
Then I try to find what I did wrong and learn from my mistakes. You mustbe very honest with yourself when you are on the top, or you are lost.
There is a popular joke saying tenors are brain dead.
This is just an old legend. It may result from the fact that a tenor (thistype of voice is not natural for a man) must be more disciplined than abaritone, for example. Any trifle can bring disaster. As long as your bodyand soul are OK, so is the voice.
So tenors must always wear a scarf?
Not really. I try to lead a normal life. Of course I cannot compare my lifewith that of a normal man who does not work till midnight. I sleep verylong and awake slowly. I must be in top form only in the evening.
Is the public now more discriminating?
I think so. Take for instance great digital recordings people haveavailable.
How would you define yourself as a singer?
I am a romantic hero for a few hours, but I live in 1985 and cannot shutmy eyes to everyday problems. I have political views. I grew up during Franco's regime. In school they drummed into our heads bullfight and football were of greatest importance, to distract us from politics.  Nowwe have democracy, and I am sure Spain needs this change.
Your father who was a teacher became a policeman just because hehad other political convictions.
As a socialist he was included in the repressions. Our family was ratherpoor, although we never hungered. One never forgets this, even whenone can afford much. I have not changed inside.
But you've changed outside. You drive Mercedes 500, and possess an awfully expensive villa. You came to Vienna with 85 shirts and 20 pairsof shoes, which did not hinder you from buying 3 more pairs of shoesand 6 shirts.
This may be the wish to make up for lost time, also a certain therapy.You sit in a city and want to please yourself. Shopping is one of thosepleasures.
A substitute action.
Yes, if you wish.
You are married and have two children. How can you keep your familylife if you are absent almost all the time?
The Carreras are a clan. I derive my strength from my family. When Ihave time, I immediately fly to Barcelona to dedicate myself first of allto my children. Sometimes we have a children's party, or I play withthem football or pelota.
Back to opera. Do you also think it is a fossilized art?
No, I don't. Of course one must get accustomed to the irreality, butopera is a living thing. Nobody doubts they sing in the opera, and notspeak.  Opera is a cultural value; it is not actual. Opera can beinterpreted - within limits. It is a fairy tale, a love story, and a charm.Opera is often more than just a play. Opera is more powerful, becauseit has the dimension of music.
Why can one not concentrate on audio and video recordings?
In the opera the most important is the living character. This gives it thenecessary tension; at some performances you can even hear a pin fall.
Opera now has acquired dramatic traits.  Does an opera singer have tobe an actor?
Acting is now given much attention - by right. You see, Baltsa's impact asCarmen is produced not only by her great voice. She is a Carmen inevery movement. The face and body must also be able to express joyand suffering.  The times when singers stood rooted in the ground havelong passed.
What do you think of the game about who is the best tenor - Pavarotti,Domingo or you?
A nice game.
So you don't care about your place.
One, two, three does not matter. What matters is one does his best,feels good and has success, but sometimes also little fails. I do notsing to be the first, second or third, I sing to be loved.
Have you ever thought what happens if you loose your voice?
Does a ski jumper think about a possible fall? You just concentrate onyour work. Besides, I think positively.
Have you always wanted to be a singer?
At least since I remember myself. I was five or six years old when I saw Mario Lanza in a movie. From that time I knew I wanted to be like him. Later I studied chemistry, but, as everyone knows, opera had won.
Tenors are called kings of opera.
It is awful to be a king. Think about kings' dramas. A public's favorite is better.
To become a favorite, what has one to sacrifice?
Every day when I awake the voice is different. Sometimes it takes half an hour, sometimes many hours to put it in shape. Then you cool again. You shouldn't think of what can happen, not to become neurotic.
So the anxiety is there?
Yes, I do not deny it. I know no singer who is not anxious about the voice. The more successful you are, the more responsibility you bear.
At present you are in a Carmen stream. Why is that?
"Carmen" has sex and crime, and people like it. The main character is a femme fatal, a woman like an abyss, stronger than we men. Militant feminism is gone, I think, and women like Carmen (who are still there)  fascinate.  I've known many successful women who revert to their old roles.
Opera directors in the entire world complain about the lack of good singers. What do you think?
You are right. I see no great talents. Many young people want to sing, but they find no good teachers. What comes to the market is either great voices without talent or great talents without voice. Even the top ten opera singers cannot be compared with such phenomenon as Caruso.
What about you?
My voice is also nothing fantastic. The demands now are different. One must not only sing, but also act. This requires extra efforts.
Why do you think in Verona 20 000 run to Verdi or Bizet, while contemporary composers enjoy little popularity?
The modern opera music is often too intellectual and for this reason does not touch the public's heart. However, it is not the listeners'  fault; the public is always right. It would run after Mozart or Verdi if they wrote their operas in our time.
Is opera too elitist, do all have a chance to buy a ticket?
My colleagues like Peter Hofmann for example, try to reach a wider public, to arouse interest for opera. I become indignant when I hear  somebody couldn't get a ticket. The Salzburg Festival is without doubt elitist, and Karajan is a genius, but a ticket costs 500 DM! In Verona a ticket is about 35 DM, and the festival achieves its object - to reach broad masses. It is as important as everything else. Next time in Salzburg I would like to sing for many people at a lower price.
Who pays your fee then?
I would gladly give up a part of it, or even sing in a benefit concert.
You are saying you would sing light music, like your colleagues Hofmann, Domingo or Kollo?
Why not? I love modern music - the Beatles, Elton John, and musicals too.  There is no sin in singing it. It does not damage my voice. All famous singers sang it. It is a great honor to please millions. I think this gap between E and U music is not OK. To me there is only good and bad music.
Your performances per year number 50 to 60. Can you sing more and earn more money?
Sure, but I must take care of my voice. Money is not everything. I accepted some tempting offers, I admit, but I've sung also for free, because the project was interesting.
Your schedule is very busy, no gaps till the end of 1986, as far as I know. Do you long for the time when you could do what you wanted?
Of course I do sometimes. For example I dream to make a tour of the North and South America, in a minivan with friends. However, I do not  complain; it is a gift from God that I can live such a good life. I must take into account both advantages and disadvantages. I want to make a career; I cannot simply break it off.
But you have earned enough?
More than I dreamed of.
What is your motivation?
Certainly it is not the money. First it is a challenge of conquering new peaks. It is also a risk, and a feeling of happiness afterwards. It is the public I serve with pleasure. My manager wouldn't like it, but I'd sing for free, because singing is my life.
Your work is arduous. Is there a temptation to take drugs?
I've talked about it once with Paul McCartney. He believes drugs do not help. Drugs are more a danger than help. Of course there are situations when one needs a vitamin shot or calcium, but only after one consults a doctor.
Are you hypochondriac?
No. I only take good care of my health. Sometimes I fly to Vienna to see the great D. Kürsten, when I have nasopharynx problems.
Why do tenors cause butterflies in the public?
This can be probably explained by the timbre of the tenor voice, vibrations, and that the most beautiful arias were written for tenors.
Vibrations to the belly?
You should do a public polling in the interval; it would be interesting and amusing.
You certainly receive from your admirers not only flowers. What is it? What do they write you? You are the sunny boy of opera.
I get many things: from cakes or dolls to little pillows. And of course letters, even proposals, if you will. But I keep this all secret. You know, these little declarations of love are something special and wonderful. I am thankful for this display of affection.
What do you not like in your profession?
First of all high life parties where you have to assume a good  air.  For the sake of business only I don't go out. I prefer to watch the video at home. I have many videos.
What are they?
From E.T. to "Prenom Carmen". I love movies.
Do you plan to act in a film?
A few films are under discussion. I'd like to participate in one of these projects.
Again back to opera. You perform in many opera houses of the world from Scala in Milan to Met, from Covent Garden to Vienna Staatsoper. Have you ever compared them?
Vienna possesses the best opera orchestra one can compare only with that of the Scala in Milan. As far as productions are concerned is La Scala superior. If a production there is a success, it is usually  better than any other production in any other theater. If it is a flop, it is a tremendous one.