Josep Maria Carreras i Coll was born on December 5, 1946, in Barcelona, Spain. His father was the owner of a small chemical plant. Young Carreras showed early interest in music after seeing Mario Lanza in the film Wielki Caruso (1951) at the age of 6. He gave his first public performance on the Spanish National Radio at the age of 8. At that time, he began his piano and solfeggio studies. His parents had a season subscription at the Liceo Opera, and young Carreras with his brother became regular opera goers. He studied chemistry on the insistence of his father. At the age of 17, he started taking voice lessons from Jaime Francisco Puig in Conservatorio Superior de Musica del Liceo in Barcelona. He also excelled in sports having tennis as a hobby. Jose Carreras and his wife Mercedes were married in Barcelona cathedral In May of 1971, the couple has two sons. Carreras made his debut at the age of 18, as Flavio in Norma by Vincenzo Bellini , where his stage partner was Montserrat Caballé in the title role. The two singers made a steady duet for the next fifteen opera productions. Caballe invited Carreras to sing the part of Gennaro in Lucrezia Borgia by Gaetano Donizetti in Teatre Liceo. That role became the first major breakthrough for the young tenor. Carreras won the International Verdi Lyrical song contest in Parma in 1971. He made his London debut in 1971 with Caballe. In 1976, he was invited by Herbert von Karajan to appear at the Summer and Winter Festivals of Salzburg. Carreras made notable recordings under the baton of Herbert von Karajan, including the Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi. He made an acclaimed recording of the 'West Side Story' with Leonard Bernstein. Jose Carreras' lyrical tenor had its finest quality during the 1970s and early 1980s. He sung the lead tenor in 24 different operas by the age of 28. He performed the total of over 60 roles during the years of intense singing career from 1964-1987, making over a thousand performances in various formats: operas, concerts, recordings and festival recitals. In the 1980s, Carreras' voice started to show some signs of strain, especially detectable when he pushed or forced his voice to harmful open notes. In 1987, at the peak of his career, Jose Carreras collapsed in Paris while a recording performance opposite Kiri Te Kanawa in Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini. He was diagnosed with leukemia and was given low chance of survival. He underwent a year-long treatment of radiation, chemotherapy and an autologus bone marrow transplant in Seattle. In 1988, Carreras returned to singing and was greeted by a crowd of 150,000 at an open air performance in Barcelona. In 1990, he made the acclaimed Three Tenors performance at the opening of the World Cup in Rome. It was originally planned as a fund-raiser for the Jose Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation. A series of "The Three Tenors" concerts during the 1990s followed by the record-breaking sales of their recordings. Jose Carreras made a remarkable comeback after his treatment and recovery from leukemia. He maintains a busy concert schedule and his performance calendar is booked through the year 2007.
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