JosÈ Carreras Collection

That would have been, of course, JosÈ Carreras, and ironically
enough, he was the very reason for the “Three Tenors,” an event
at least partly built around the celebration of the singer’s return to
health after a frightening bout with leukemia.

Beloved before his illness for his handsome persona and beautiful timbre,
with his survival Carreras meant even more to his core audience. As an
acknowledgement of that devotion, ArtHaus Musik has boxed 6 DVDs as the
“JosÈ Carreras Collection.” Many of his fans will have these
titles in earlier media incarnations, but they may not be able to resist the
call of the attractive packaging.

Before going into a few specifics about each title, a gentle declaration
must come first – purely as singing, much of what Carreras produces in these
concert appearances cannot match the standard he set for himself before the
onset of his illness. In the middle range, some reminder of his appeal comes
through. Too often he seems to force the tone, and if he lightens it too
much, a wavery effect results. The top, unsurprisingly, fares poorest – often
hoarse, sometimes painfully so. It is a tribute to the bond Carreras formed
with audiences that he still manages to captivate them, and they give of
their love unstintingly.

The ovation that greets Carreras in The Vienna Comeback has to
touch one’s heart. He chose a fairly challenging program, in French,
Spanish, and Italian, even ending the encores in Swedish for Grieg’s
“Jeg elkser dig.” That was in September 1988. About a year later
in Salzburg he offered a recital with some of the same selections, but the
balance had shifted to somewhat lighter fare – more Tosti, some Guastivino,
Halffter. Nonetheless, the top is as troublesome as ever. The ecstatic
audience couldn‘t care less, insisting on the requisite 5 encores from
the tenor.

Carreras only appears once in La Grande Notte a Verona, singing
his crowd-pleasing “Granada.” The rest of the program is a gala
affair of very variable vocal contributions and amusing reminders of late
1980s ABBA-influenced hairstyles, male or female. In 1990, Carreras sang a
short program of 5 songs and then a “modern” mass setting called
“Misa Criolla” from composer Ariel Ramirez. Lightly scored and
sweetly melodic, this insubstantial piece poses no great challenge for
Carreras, and able to relax, he delivers a pleasant performance.

The strangest of the 6 DVDs is A Bolshoi Opera Night. According
to the booklet and credits, Carreras was a sponsor of this gala charity
evening, but not only does he not sing, he does not even appear on stage
(unless your reviewer blinked and missed him). Another hit-and-miss affair,
as a gala this Bolshoi evening will appeal most to those with a fondness for
stars near the end of their careers (Bergonzi, Kraus) and Gorbachev-era
Soviet opera stars.

The most pleasing of the six CDs finds Carreras with the woman who in some
sense discovered him, Montserrat CaballÈ. Singing solos and some duets,
neither singer can be claimed to be in the best of voice, but their sheer joy
in each other’s presence adds much more than a few tight high notes can

Perhaps as an even greater tribute to this fine tenor, a company can
release some the filmed work of his from before his illness, when his voice
was at its memorable best. The “JosÈ Carreras Collection” is for
the most devoted fans.

Chris Mullins

image_description=JosÈ Carreras Collection
product_title=JosÈ Carreras Collection
product_by=JosÈ Carreras – Vienna Comeback Recital, 1988 (101 401)
JosÈ Carreras – La Grande Notte a Verona 1988 (101 403)
JosÈ Carreras – A Bolshoi Opera Night, 1989 (101 409)
JosÈ Carreras & Montserrat CaballÈ (101 413)
JosÈ Carreras – Salzburg Recital, 1989 (101 411)
JosÈ Carreras – Misa Crolla, 1990 (101 405)
product_id=ArtHaus Musik 101 417 [6DVDs]