Wednesday, January 29th 2020

A Third of the Three Tenors, José Carreras Exits on His Terms

To many people whose knowledge of opera began and ended with the Three Tenors juggernaut, he was known, in the words of a memorable “Seinfeld” episode, as “the other guy”: the tenor who wasn’t Luciano Pavarotti or Plácido Domingo.

But to those who heard José Carreras in his prime, he was unforgettable in his own right, with a meltingly beautiful voice and movie-star looks. He was well on his way to operatic stardom before he was 30; inaugurated Franco Zeffirelli’s still-popular production of Puccini’s “La Bohème” at the Metropolitan Opera in 1981; and sold millions of recordings.

Then, at 40, he was stricken by leukemia, given long odds of survival and forced to undergo months of grueling treatment. He did not know if he would live, let alone sing again.

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