A Career Without Mistakes and Failures Would be Boring

Great tenor Jose Carreras is in Moscow again. Today he sings at the Bolshoi Theatre together with the British pop diva Sarah Brightman. The day before Jose Carreras granted GAZETA an exclusive interview.

Are you afraid of flying on planes?

JC - No more than before. If somebody fears, let him spend his life at home in voluntary incarceration, which, I think, is foolish.

How do you find Russia?

JC - I was born in Spain during Franco's fascist dictatorship. I was told of Russia as of something diabolical, infernal. But when I got an opportunity to travel around the world during the seventies, I realized how absurd my children's notions had been. I like to be in Moscow, the audience here is intelligent and warm, the people become more and more open. However, it is difficult for me to feel the actual social and political situation, because like every guest-performer I make it to see only what is on the surface.

Reflecting on your life, do you think more of a person's will power or of power of destiny?

JC - I don't know yet. When you learn about such a terrible diagnosis and doctors say you have one chance in a million, you feel almost animal fear and injustice that can be overcome only by faith in yourself. From the very beginning I knew it would be hard, but I did not know it would be that hard. Still, there certainly was providence there. I am grateful to my fate and now I try to help people in the same situation as mine had been.

During your entire career you have been criticized for adventurism. Looking back, do you agree with this reproach?

JC - I do not believe in a comfortable career. I respect artists who have enough will power to strictly limit their artistic interests for the sake of voice, but I don't understand them. I always try to avoid stagnation and routine. If you do not take risks, you are a vegetable. I would go mad from such life. Well, I may have made mistakes, but I am the only one responsible for them. Career without mistakes and failures would be very boring. I do not want to think that my career may be damaged because I sing a certain piece or role. The main thing is that I was able to avoid triviality.

Are you reckless and inclined to temptations?

JC - No, I am not a gambler. Of course I sometimes act spontaneously, but still I rather try to think first. Of all games of chance I prefer sports. I am an enthusiastic football fan and love to go to the stadium with my children. I try not to sit in a box, but on the stands, to be lost in crowd and be able to express emotions. It is this very howling and shouting that makes a fan happy. There is one more thing I hardly find time for and consider luxury. It is meeting with my school friends, who do not care about my fame. We love one another sincerely and unselfishly. We speak of our past, of serious things and trifles, play cards. I revel in these meetings.

Are you not sad that none of your children follows in your footsteps?

JC - If you heard them sing you would understand how happy I am with this fact. They are adult serious persons, they seem very purposeful to me. Alberto is a lawyer, Julia studies biology. I am very content with their professional lives.

What myth about tenors is in your opinion the most crying lie?

JC - First of all it is not true that Domingo, Pavarotti and I compete with each other. Only respect and friendship reign between us. I like their voices both as a listener and from a professional point of view. This makes our relationship something unique, fantastic. I am just possessed by our friendship. Second, and this concerns almost all tenors, they are not at all Don Juans. This deceptive impression is a result of the fact that we usually play strong romantic heroes. Also, the tenor voice is like the one of a teenager, and women feel an instinctive need to love and protect us. What my private life is concerned, I do not consider myself a Don Juan. A man who calls himself a Don Juan is in my opinion an idiot. Only a woman can decide if a man is a Don Juan or not.

Is your triple union with Domingo and Pavarotti show business or the future of opera?

JC - It is a compromise between entertainment and art. I do not think there is something blameworthy in it. We still perform at most renowned opera stages of the world. And only three times a year* we get together to sing for relaxation in a completely different situation, for a diverse audience. And as long as people want to hear us together, we, naturally, do not think where and when to put an end to our union. We are very different people by nature, and it is an interesting creative task for us to achieve harmony.

Does opera suffer because the romantic age is gone?

JC - I think the world is being ruined by the cult of money. Opera is priceless. Most operas are masterpieces. We just have to preserve many of them forever, like works of Shakespeare or Botichelli's paintings. New age offers more opportunities for the young and more perspectives. New technologies are new ways of obtaining information. Opera will have to master them properly.

What else are you possessed by except music, sports and meetings with friends?

JC - By work at my International Leukemia Foundation, that was founded 12 years ago in Barcelona. Since then we opened three more branches in Geneva, Zurich and Seattle. There are two main directions in our work. We try to support concrete people, instill hope for the cure. Also we raise funds for financing scientific researches on blood cancer treatment. We constantly organize various charity actions. All these years I've been giving a half of my fees to the Foundation. My friend Karl Scheufele recently created a watch collection "Jose Carreras", and all returns of sales also go to the Foundation. I am immersed in the Foundation's activities.

Is there a singer whom you would call your successor?

JC - To tell the truth, although there are wonderful tenors in the younger generation, I cannot call any of them my successor. It is not because I am the best. They are just totally different.

Do you yourself like the singer Jose Carreras?

JC - Yes. But not for his voice or skill, I like his sincerity.

You turn 55 on December 5th. How will you celebrate your anniversary?

JC - I will be traveling. In my age it is better not to celebrate birthdays.

Maria Babalova

GAZETA 20.11.2001

Translation Maria Kozlova

*must be every three years translator's note

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