José Carreras is a Spanish Catalan tenor particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini. Born in Barcelona, he made his debut on the opera stage at the age of 11 as Trujamán in Manuel de Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro and went on to a career that encompassed over 60 roles on the stages of the world's leading opera houses and in the recording studio.
He gained fame with a wider audience as one of The Three Tenors along with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti in a series of mass concerts that began in 1990 and continued until 2003. Carreras is also known for his humanitarian work as the president of the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation (La Fundació Internacional Josep Carreras per a la Lluita contra la Leucèmia), which he established following his own recovery from the disease in 1988.
Carreras has received numerous awards and distinctions for both his artistic and humanitarian work. These include: Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur (France); Gran Croce di Cavaliere and Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana; Grand Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria; the Cruz de Oro del Orden Civil de la Solidaridad Social from Queen Sofia of Spain, The Prince of Asturias Prize, and the Bundesverdienstkreuz from the Federal Republic of Germany. On 23 February 2004, the Austrian Post Office issued a 1€ stamp to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his debut at the Vienna Staatsoper.
He has Honorary Doctorates from the University of Barcelona and Miguel Hernández University (Spain); Napier,Loughborough and Sheffield universities (United Kingdom); the Mendeleev Russian University of Chemistry and Technology (Russia); the University of Camerino (Italy); Rutgers University (United States); the University of Coimbra (Portugal); the National University of Music Bucharest (Romania); Philipps-Universität Marburg (Germany); the University of Pécs (Hungary) and most recently, the Hyunghee University (Korea) and the University of Porto(Portugal).
In Spain the central plaza in Sant Joan d'Alacant bears his name, as do two theatres – the Auditori Josep Carreras in Vila-seca (near Tarragona) and The Teatro Josep Carreras in Fuenlabrada.
Throughout his childhood in Barcelona, Carreras's father, Josep Carreras i Soler, worked as a traffic policeman. He had originally been a French teacher. However, he had fought on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, and when the Franco government came into power in 1939, he was no longer allowed to teach. His mother, Antonia Coll i Saigi, ran a small hair-dressing salon, where, as a child, Carreras often sang to the customers in return for pocket money. He was very close to his mother, who was convinced that he would one day be a great singer, and her death from cancer when he was only 18 affected him greatly. In José Carreras: A Life Story, he said that "even now, every time I go on stage, I always, always, have a quick thought for her." In 1971 Carreras married Mercedes Pérez. They had two children: a son, Albert (born in 1972), and a daughter, Julia (born in 1978). The marriage ended in divorce in 1992. In 2006, Carreras married Jutta Jäger, but separated from her in 2011. Carreras's nephew,David Giménez Carreras, is a conductor and Director of the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès. He has conducted many of Carreras's concerts since the late 1990s as well as his opera performances in Sly at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in June 2000.