By THE NATION
The World's leading opera singer Jose Carreras accompanied by Irish soprano Celine Byrne will bring down the curtain on the six-week long Bangkok’s 21st International Festival of Dance & Music on October 23.
An integral member of the memorable Three Tenors, Carreras along with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo mesmerised the world by introducing the world of opera to a whole new generation. Herbert von Karajan called Carreras the most powerful embodiment of Don Jose [in Carmen] stating that he was “the Don Jose I had always dreamed of”.
Born in Barcelona, Carreras was mesmerised by opera at age six when he saw Mario Lanza perform in the movie “The Great Caruso”. At 11 he sang a Verdi aria on national radio. He has reportedly sung more than 60 Verdi and Puccini operas and was the star of the Franco Zeffirelli production “La Boheme”.
He has performed at four Fifa World Cup Finals including at the Dodger Stadium, at the Barcelona Olympics and at the world’s most prestigious opera theatres and festivals, including La Scala in Milan, New York Metropolitan Opera House, and London’s Royal Opera House.
And now at 72, he is contemplating giving up the stage to focus on his Leukaemia Foundation. His appearance in Bangkok is one of the stops on his farewell global concert tour.
Accompanying him in Bangkok is Ireland’s foremost opera singer, the internationally acclaimed soprano Celine Byrne who has frequently appeared on opera stages across Europe and USA, as well as China, Russia and Mexico. A vivacious artiste, she has sung a variety of opera roles and is the first-prize winner of the prestigious Maria Callas Grand Prix.
Byrne entered the opera world late, discovering opera only at 18 when working in Italy as an au pair. Inspired, she took singing lessons and is today a leading star (her Carnegie Hall debut was in 2007). A career highlight for Byrne was performing for Pope Francis along with Andrea Bocelli in Dublin during the papal visit to Ireland.
Also adding heft to the Bangkok performance is the presence of conductor David Gimenez whose extraordinary understanding of the voice has seen him perform with leading singers in the world, and with orchestras like TeatroallaScala, Vienna Staatsoper and Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
So what can the audience expect? In brief, an exciting mix of operatic highlights mixed with popular music and pop hits.
In an interview to The Sydney Morning Herald Carreras described his thought process, “I am constantly thinking about what I'm doing [when performing] but at the same time it comes naturally. It is difficult to explain. The soul produces the emotion. And the brain is telling the emotions where they have to go. And it is something that comes together, in the song.”
Supporting the festival are Bangkok Bank PCL, B. Grimm Group, BMW Thailand, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Indorama Ventures, Ministry of Culture, Nation Group, PTT Public Company Limited, PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited, Singha Corporation, Thai Union Group PCL, Thai Airways International and Tourism Authority of Thailand.