José Carreras Biography

(Spanish Operatic Tenor Known for His Performances in the Operas of 'Donizetti', 'Verdi' and 'Puccini')

Birthday: December 5, 1946 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Barcelona, Spain

José Carreras is a Spanish tenor, best known for his performances as one of the Three Tenors. An internationally acclaimed opera singer, he helped popularize the genre to a wider audience across the globe. Born and raised in Barcelona, he started displaying his musical talents at a young age and was especially skilled at singing. At the age of six, he saw Mario Lanza in ‘The Great Caruso’ and was greatly inspired. From then on, he started singing incessantly, often irritating his family members. The elders in the family were quick to recognize his skill and arranged for him to get music lessons at Barcelona's Municipal Conservatory. He gave his first public performance at the age of eight and made his debut on the operatic stage at eleven. The child prodigy went on to study music at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu and also took private voice lessons. Within years he established himself as a successful and much sought after singer of the opera. Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé became his mentor and helped him achieve international stardom. Diagnosed with leukaemia at the peak of his career, he not only beat the deadly disease, but also went on to establish the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation to help others battling the illness.

Quick Facts

Spanish Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Josep Maria Carreras Coll

Age: 77 Years, 77 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Jutta Jäger (m. 2006–2011), Mercedes Pérez (m. 1971–1992)

children: Albert Carreras, Julia Carreras

Born Country: Spain

Opera Singers Spanish Men

Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males

Notable Alumni: Conservatori Superior De Música Del Liceu

City: Barcelona, Spain

More Facts

education: Conservatori Superior De Música Del Liceu

awards: 2009 - Classic Brit Lifetime Achievement Award
1991 - Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo - Carreras Domingo Pavarotti in Concert
1997; 1995 - Porin Award for Best Foreign Video Programme - A celebration of Christmas; The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994
1995 - Porin Award for Best Foreign Classical Music Album - The Three Tenors in Concert 1994

  • 1

    What is José Carreras known for?

    José Carreras is known for being a renowned Spanish operatic tenor.

  • 2

    When did José Carreras start his singing career?

    José Carreras started his singing career in the late 1960s.

  • 3

    Which famous operas has José Carreras performed in?

    José Carreras has performed in famous operas such as La Bohème, Tosca, and Carmen.

  • 4

    Has José Carreras performed in any notable concerts?

    Yes, José Carreras has performed in numerous notable concerts worldwide, including the Three Tenors concerts.

  • 5

    What is José Carreras' vocal range?

    José Carreras is known for his distinctive tenor voice with a vocal range that typically spans from C3 to C5.

Childhood & Early Life
Josep Maria Carreras i Coll was born on December 5, 1946, in Barcelona, Spain, as the son of Antònia Coll i Saigi and Josep Carreras i Soler. His father worked as a traffic policeman while his mother ran a small hair-dressing salon. He has two elder siblings.
He displayed an early talent for music which intensified after watching Mario Lanza perform in ‘The Great Caruso’. Aged just six at the time, young Jose started singing arias to his family. His grandfather, an amateur baritone, recognized the potential the child possessed and encouraged his parents to send him for music lessons.
Initially he studied piano and voice with a friend’s mother and began taking music lessons at Barcelona's Municipal Conservatory when he was eight. He also gave his first public performance at eight.
In 1958, he made his debut in Barcelona's great opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, singing the boy soprano role of Trujamán in Manuel de Falla's ‘El retablo de Maese Pedro’. He was 11 years old at that time.
There was no doubt in his mind that he was destined for a career in music and studied music at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu as a teenager. He also took private lessons during this time. In addition, he enrolled at the University of Barcelona to study chemistry but left after two years to focus on music.
Continue Reading Below
Recommended Lists:
One of this music teachers and mentors, Juan Ruax encouraged him to audition for the role of Flavio in the opera ‘Norma’ in January 1970. It was a minor role, but the few phrases he sang were impressive enough to catch the attention of the production's leading lady, the famous soprano Montserrat Caballé.
Montserrat Caballé recognized the young man’s potential and selected him to sing Gennaro with her in Donizetti's ‘Lucrezia Borgia’, which opened in December 1970. This became his first principal adult role and soon he received several offers.
He went on to make his international debut in a concert performance of Maria Stuarda in London's Royal Festival Hall, again with Caballé, in 1971. Caballé played a major role in promoting and encouraging his career for many years; the two performed together in over 15 operas. In addition, her brother and manager, Carlos Caballé, also served as Carreras's manager until the mid-1990s.
His career progressed rapidly in the 1970s and he made his American debut as Pinkerton in ‘Madama Butterfly’ with the New York City Opera in 1972. By the mid-1970s, he was an internationally acclaimed tenor who had sung the lead in 24 different operas in both Europe and North America.
His streak of success continued well into the 1980s. By this time, he had sung with some of the most eminent sopranos and mezzo-sopranos of the day including his mentor Montserrat Caballé, Birgit Nilsson, Viorica Cortez, Renata Scotto, Ileana Cotrubaş, Sylvia Sass, and Teresa Stratas. He also had a long lasting artistic partnership with Katia Ricciarelli.
He was at the peak of his career when he suddenly collapsed during a recording in 1987. Subsequently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he underwent a grueling treatment regime involving chemotherapy, radiation therapy and an autologous bone marrow transplant. Initially given a 10% chance of survival, he beat the odds to eventually recover his health.
While undergoing treatment, his relationship with erstwhile rivals Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo changed dramatically. Pavarotti and Domingo became friends with the ailing tenor and supported him in his attempts to re-establish his career.
Once Carreras recovered fully, the three men collaborated to become “The Three Tenors” and started performing together. Their first concert, held in Italy in 1990, during the World Cup, was a phenomenal success. The recording of their debut concert became the best-selling classical album of all time and led to several more recordings and appearances.
Over the ensuing years, The Three Tenors toured internationally and performed at various locations including Kasumigaoka Stadium in Tokyo, Wembley Stadium in London, Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, Giants Stadium outside of New York, and Olympic Stadium in Munich. All their concerts were resounding successes.
Continue Reading Below
In the recent past he forayed into popular music as well and performed and recorded with artists such as Diana Ross, Edyta Górniak, Lluis Llach, and Giorgia Fumanti.
Major Works
Jose Carreras is best known for performing as a part of The Three Tenors with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Their first performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy on the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final was a thundering success and the recording of this concert became the best-selling classical album of all time.
Awards & Achievements
In 1991, he was made Knight Grand Cross and Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. The same year, he also became a joint winner of the Prince of Asturias Prize for Art.
He was made Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur (France) in 1996.
Philanthropic Works
Jose Carreras is well-known for his humanitarian works. Following his recovery from leukaemia, he founded the charitable organization José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation in Barcelona with the aim of improving the lives and care of other leukaemia sufferers. The foundation also has affiliates in the U.S., Switzerland, and Germany.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1971 Carreras married Mercedes Pérez and had two children with her. The marriage ended in divorce in 1992.
He married Jutta Jäger in 2006, but separated from her in 2011.
Facts About José Carreras

José Carreras is not only a talented tenor but also a philanthropist, having founded the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation to support research and treatment for leukemia.

In addition to his operatic performances, Carreras has also ventured into the world of popular music, collaborating with artists such as Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo on crossover albums.

Carreras is known for his love of football (soccer) and is a devoted supporter of FC Barcelona, often attending matches and proudly displaying his team's colors.

Despite his fame and success, Carreras remains humble and approachable, regularly taking time to meet with his fans and express his gratitude for their support.

In his free time, Carreras enjoys cooking and is known for his culinary skills, often preparing meals for his friends and family.

See the events in life of José Carreras in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- José Carreras Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Placido Domingo Biography
Placido Domingo
Francesco Cavalli Biography
Francesco Cavalli
Malena Ernman Biography
Malena Ernman
Alma Gluck Biography
Alma Gluck
Maria Callas Biography
Maria Callas
Paul Sorvino Biography
Paul Sorvino
Luciano Pavarotti Biography
Luciano Pavarotti
Birgit Nilsson Biography
Birgit Nilsson