Salzburg Concert of Josť Carreras on 11 August 2002
Little surprises accompanied me all the way on my first "Carreras tour": a group of Ö Catalonians flying to Barcelona from Moscow, a magazine "Window to Spain" at the airport, completely dedicated to Catalonia and its famous natives. The first music I heard at my friend's apartment in Berlin was Misa Criolla broadcasted by the Klassik Radio; our farewell supper included "Crema Catalana" (vanilla ice cream plus caramel in ceramic bowls). Somebody up high kept reminding me of Josť Carreras.
Singing in the Rain
The day before the concert it was warm and sunny. I was hoping that the next day would be as wonderful in spite of forecasts. Alas! Salzburg is known for its rains that last long because surrounding mountains bar the way for clouds. Nevertheless, it is a city where one feels at home from the first minute.
The rain did not prevent us (Nancy Smith, Lydia Clary, other members of the Friends of Josť Carreras from USA and UK, and myself) from having a good time. At the day of the concert we joined a guided tour to all festival houses early in the morning, and then settled down in a nearby cafť to talk. Of course we took pictures of each other, but instead of "say cheese" (usually resulting in a silly grin) they taught me to "say Jose", that each time evoked a sweet feeling and a hearty laugh.
It began to rain even harder in the evening. The lobby of the Great Festival Hall was filled with beautifully dressed people and journalists taking pictures of local celebrities. I would have preferred to be lost in the crowd, but flowers and camera gave me away as a "Verehrerin" ("she-admirer"), as one man said with a touch of irony behind my back. My reward was some beautiful pictures I am happy to share with you.
Josť sang with feeling and taste. The four pieces by Peter I. Tchaikovski really surprised and moved me. (I wish he had sung them in Russian. Our phonetics is no harder than French or German, to say nothing of Polish, but I think Josť wants to have an idea of the language and its structure before he starts to sing in it, "not to be ridiculous".) About the third piece, a very popular song to J. W. Goethe's text (usually sung in Russian translation by L. Mej), I can say that it was the best rendition I ever heard. Our tenor was simply telling the story of loneliness and longing, as if it were his own, as he always does. The familiar melody had never sounded more Russian to me.
Talking with Bettina Rose in the interval I learned that Josť's brother, son and daughter were there. Soon I noticed a glance of Josť's brother Alberto who was walking toward his seat. He saw my flowers and looked straight into my eyes. "Admirers are in the minority tonight," Bettina said.
It rained and rained. Josť was truly "singing in the rain". One of the encores, "Vierno", he dedicated to this very rain, and I was grateful to the weather for the opportunity to once again hear this beautiful sad song.
Wonderful encores followed one after another. Five, six, sevenÖ 45 minutes or more Josť sang for us without rest, without any intermission but applause. The hall was half empty. Some left, but most of the people just came up closer and crowded in the gangways. Josť was given flowers and small presents; he accepted them with gratitude, sometimes raising his eyebrows in sly surprise: "for me?" Lydia's bouquet of yellow roses with a red ribbon landed on the piano.
Josť seemed to be willing to sing all night in this relaxed atmosphere of love and admiration, but he was so tired that he could hardly smile, and his eyes asked our pardon. With the first notes of† "Return to Sorrento" we realized that it was the farewell song.
I did not go backstage. Getting into a taxi in the rain I saw a few excited Japanese ladies rush toward the Festival Shop with huge umbrellas and without. A suspicion crept into my mindÖ But it was late and cold, and we passed by.
I know how much this concert meant for you, and I congratulate you on your triumphant return to Salzburg, the city so special for you because of Herbert von Karajan, your favorite conductor, and many wonderful days you had here.