Voice giving out, Carreras halts Kravis concert

By Greg Stepanich

WEST PALM BEACH — Spanish tenor Jose Carreras halted his recital here Monday evening toward the end of its first half, clearly struggling with what appeared to be a chest cold.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the respect you have shown us tonight,” Carreras said after stopping pianist Lorenzo Bavaj in the middle of D’oreneta, a song by the Catalan composer Enrico Morera. “But I don’t think you are going to enjoy this. I’m certainly not enjoying myself.

“I promise to come back as soon as I can to sing for you,” he said, bowing, as the Kravis Center audience, which could see Carreras was having difficulty, rose to its feet in a warm ovation.

The abrupt cancellation of Carreras’ concert raises questions about whether he will be able to sing a recital planned for Friday at Miami’s Arsht Center. Both the Kravis and Arsht programs contain a selection of lighter art and salon songs, including Neapolitan and Catalan pieces, a medley that has been standard fare for the tenor’s recital programs for some years now.

Carreras, one of the legendary Three Tenors, is scheduled to be joined in his Miami concert by local soprano Elizabeth Caballero, who is appearing next month as the Countess Almaviva in the Florida Grand Opera production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

Although Carreras began his recital in decent form with Mercadante’s Lu cardillo, it became evident soon afterward that the singer was having trouble, as he began to cough repeatedly during the piano interlude of Mario Costa’s Era de Maggio, holding a handkerchief to his mouth.

He came back on stage after a pause for a three-song set by F. Paolo Tosti, and in the first selection, Il Segreto, he did not sing the second chorus, letting it be played by Bavaj instead. His technique helped him considerably during the next two songs: Ideale, with its long, flowing lines, and hushed, dramatic ending, which he performed nicely, and Marechiare, in which a clear loss of wind power was evident, but he cracked no notes and his intonation didn’t suffer.

But Marechiare must have sapped his vocal strength, and while he managed to sing the first phrases of the Morera song with affecting emotion, the audience knew what was coming by the time he raised his right hand to stop the music. The recital had lasted less than 40 minutes.

In a phone interview Friday, Carreras’ speaking voice showed no sign of a cold, and since he attempted to go on with the concert tonight, the illness must be very recent.

Carreras, 62, a native of Barcelona, made his mark in Italian opera beginning in 1970 with his countrywoman, the soprano Monserrat Caballe, in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia. He enjoyed a reputation as one of the world’s finest tenors before nearly losing his life in 1987 to acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

He recovered the following year, thanks to aggressive treatment including a bone-marrow transplant at a prominent cancer research center in Seattle, and established a foundation to aid in leukemia research. In 1990, he became much better known to the world at large as one of The Three Tenors, in which Carreras, fellow Spaniard Placido Domingo and the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti sang a concert of operatic and semi-operatic favorites to an audience near Rome on the eve of that year’s soccer World Cup.

The resulting recording of the concert sold more than 14 million copies, and remains the highest-selling single classical disc in history. Carreras last appeared on an operatic stage in the summer of 2002 as the lead in Sly, a nearly forgotten opera by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari.

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Voice giving out, Carreras halts Kravis concert”

  1. Posted Mar 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm by Alice

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Mr. Carreras!

  2. Posted Mar 13, 2009 at 3:47 pm by Louise

    Look after yourself Josep. Take care

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Tue Mar 10, 2009
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