Concerts at stadiums are entertainment and not art

Jose Carreras celebrated in Moscow the 100th anniversary of Transsib

Mikhail Fichtengolz

30 July 2001

The renowned tenor Jose Carreras made a two days visit in Moscow. He sang twice on Saturday: on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Transsiberian main line and in a closed concert in the State Kremlin Palace together with Alla Pugatshova, Larissa Dolina, Nikolai Karatshentsov, Dmitri Kharatyan, Muslim Magomayev and other Russian pop stars. Jose Carreras granted Vedomosti an interview before the concert.

Why did you agree to these fairly unusual proposals?

JC - I did it for two reasons: First, I love Russia and try to use every opportunity to visit. Many of my warmest memories are connected with Moscow: I have friends here. Second, my compatriot Agustin Betancourt was one of those who started the construction of the Transsiberian railroad. Invited by the czar Alexander I he stayed for good and headed the Russian railway administration in St. Petersburg. As far as I know he was even conferred an order of Alexander Nevski. Only most distinguished persons receive it. These relations between Spain and Russia are very important.

Over the last years you not only sing, but also devote much time to the charity leukemia foundation. Would you also like to try your hand at conducting, producing or teaching, like many of your colleagues?

JC - I wanted to conduct when I was young, but my singing career prevented these plans. Later I was afraid to start an unfamiliar work. I had neither an opportunity to conduct, nor experience. Now there may be a chance to start, but I can't bring myself to do something I am not sure of. You have to be a professional in any profession. I don't feel I would be good enough at conducting a symphony orchestra. But I will think about teaching when I have more time. The accepted system of master classes does not suit me at all. It is like conveyor production. The human voice requires individual approach. I would like to have one student - a man, preferably a tenor with good natural makings. At voice lessons there must be no hurry, the teacher must fix his attention on the student, warn him against errors and develop his voice in the right direction.

Is classical music at stadiums a new form of art invented by three renowned tenors you, Domingo and Pavarotti, or a compromise?

JC - Interesting and complicated question. The open-air promotion of classical music is not an invention of the three tenors, as many people believe. Remember, for example, Arturo Toscanini's legendary concerts at the London Madison Square Garden. This kind of concerts existed long before us three, we just continued and developed this tradition. If it is a compromise? Yes, to a certain extent. As a matter of fact, concerts at stadiums are entertainment and not art. But let us not forget that many years the only purpose of music in the European society was entertainment. The Three Tenors concerts will take place in the future because people like them. Next year there will be three or four of them. The work with Luciano and Placido is a great, incomparable pleasure for me; I look forward to every concert.

Your busy schedule includes seven or eight concerts a month in different parts of the world. Does it help keep your voice in good shape? Do you plan programs of concerts and schedule yourself?

JC - Yes, I plan performances myself, although it is hard. But I don't bite off more that I can chew, and give as many concerts as I can manage. The human voice is a delicate instrument; one should neither overstrain it, nor relax. The voice is part of the body that you should train to keep in good form. The voice strength depends on throat and diaphragm muscles. Daily training is necessary; concerts are part of the creative work, as well as home practice and rehearsals with the orchestra.

Since you plan the schedule yourself, is there a chance to see you in Moscow again?

JC: - Certainly. I would like to come here again, and we negotiate from time to time. It should be a charity concert. The leukemia foundation and I just cannot shut our eyes to the many people in Russia who need help. Unfortunately, not every project can be fulfilled, but I am almost sure that sooner or later I will be in Moscow again.

Translation Maria Kozlova

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