‘Third Tenor’ Carreras bids farewell to London at Kenwood House
13 June, 2019 — By Michael White
THERE’S a joke in the Seinfeld TV series about the Three Tenors who dominated classical singing through the 1990s; and the joke is that while Seinfeld recalls the names of two of them – it isn’t difficult: Pavarotti and Domingo – he forgets the third and can only refer to him as “the other guy”.
I daresay many people had that problem, because “the other guy” never quite scaled up to the others in vocal power or physical stature. But he was still a megastar of the opera stage. The whole Three Tenors project was his idea.
He is, of course, José Carreras – one of the music world’s great survivors and is still singing at the age of 72, though not for much longer.
He’s on a farewell tour. And strange though it may seem, his farewell to London takes place this weekend at Kenwood House – in front of a sprawling open-air audience that may or may not be able to hear him but will be ecstatic either way. Because Carreras is a living legend.
That he’s living at all is miraculous, since he succumbed to leukaemia back in the 1980s with only the barest chance of recovery. But recover he did. The Three Tenors stadium concerts, which played across the world and sold millions of albums, raised vast amounts for leukaemia charities. And Carreras just went on and on, outliving Pavarotti in the process.
What his voice is like today I’m not sure: I haven’t heard him in ages. But in its time it was one of the most purely beautiful lyric tenors around – never quite strong enough for the heavier roles he took on, but still lovely.
And his partnerships with the soprano Katia Ricciarelli and conductor Herbert von Karajan were definitive of classical music-making in the 1970s/80s. Glamorous, alluring, charismatic.
How much of that he can still deliver at 72 remains to be seen. But his Kenwood farewell, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, will be big on emotion.
And it’s a family affair in that the conductor is his nephew, David Giménez.
• 7pm, Sunday June 16, Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR. www.heritagelive.net/kenwood-2019/, 0844 844 0444