Press Digest
Carreras assumes the presidency of the 'Concorso Voci Verdiane' jury

© Jean Peccei
not be re-printed without prior written permission
The three articles discussed here all derive from a recent press conference at the Circolo della Stampa in Milan announcing the upcoming 'Verdi Voices' competition in Busseto (April 10-14) of which Carreras will be the new Jury President. Bear in mind that journalists often paraphrase what they hear at these press conferences. However, they still put quotation marks around the paraphrases as if they were exact quotes. In this digest, I translate Carreras quotes from the three articles where they differ significantly, and highlight some of the comments made by other participants in the press conference and the journalists themselves.

From 'Concorso voci verdiane a Busseto: Josè Carreras è il presidente di giuria'
by Ester Barcella, Liberta', 1 April 2003...

Carreras: "At this point in my life, it is a great gift to be President of the Jury, and I hope it will be the start of a long collaboration. It is a very great satisfaction to help young talents. After years of a career, it is time to think about young people.".

Carreras is taking up the post long held by Alessandro Ziliani, co-founder of the competition in 1961 along with Gianfranco Stefanini, Carlo Bergonzi and Paolo Arcà. The Jury is composed of those responsible for the great opera houses including Paolo Arcà, Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Jean Francois Monnard, Deutsche Oper Berlin; Ioan Holender, Wiener Staatsoper; Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli; Emilio Sagi, Teatro Real di Madrid; Gianni Tangucci, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

Carreras: "This is an important aspect because there are people who can do something for the young singers and place them in their productions".

Like the great tenor (Carreras) Arcà refutes the idea that today there is a dearth of 'Verdian voices'.

Carreras: "What's important is not the so-called 'Verdian voice' , but to sing well, to phrase properly, the expansion, the expression... this I don't think has disappeared. Today the technical training is far superior to what it once was, but talent and charisma are another thing.".

Carreras on advice for a young Verdi singer "To give advice is a very great responsibility. One is always afraid of getting it wrong... What is important  is that the singer is sure that he has the capacity for determination and self-discipline which are indispensable".

Gianni Baratta, the sovrintendent of the Fondazione Toscanini, emphasized that Carreras' acceptance of the post of Jury President represents "a concrete help" both to the young singers and to culture in general. Opera, he said was an immense patrimony that must endure in time and become a part of our society. The young singers have an absolute need to be in contact with great artists, to prepare themselves for a career that is extremely difficult and demanding. Another 'essential', added Baratta is also the psychological preparation. Young people today are more fragile. Society today strongly disadvantages young people, and this is growing even in the theatre. We must get used to the idea of psychological support. Simply a teacher isn't enough for a successful career on a national or international level.

The journalist highlighted the possibility of  two more Three Tenors concerts, still to be confirmed, one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Moscow.

Carreras when asked if it is difficult to make music in times of war: "It's not more difficult, but more beautiful to be able to give people the beauty of music. Above all when there is a war that has no sense.  I am absolutely opposed to the war against Iraq and I don't understand those in power who didn't know how to exhaust all the diplomatic possibilities first."

From 'Il «giudice» Carreras'
by Francesco Monaco, Gazzetta di Parma, 1 April 2003...

The journalist recalls the "highly acclaimed concert" that Carreras gave in Busseto last year, after which he was offered the Jury Presidency.

Carreras characterized the offer of the jury presidency as "a gift that makes me feel enthusiastic and honoured because 32 years ago I had the fortune to win the Verdi Voices competition in Parma and since that time I have had the strongest of ties to that region". [Busseto, a small hamlet near Parma, is Verdi's birthplace]

The journalist then points out that after a comment from Carreras about the necessity of helping young people (as in the 'Liberta' article), his face "grew dark" and he said, "Otherwise we would feel guilty if we did not help them, a bit like with the war - everyone says it's necessary, but no one does enough to avoid it." This is followed by a similar quote about the war to the one in the 'Liberta' article.

Carreras hoped that this Jury Presidency would be only the beginning (it is expected to last many years) and praised the level of the jury membership.

Carreras on the existence of 'Verdian voices': "If what is meant by the Verdian voice is 'weight' and 'squillo', this interests me only up to a certain point. Much more important is proper phrasing rather than responding to a clichè. And in any case, while I maintain that certainly there are voice types more suited to certain repertoires, the important thing is to know how to sing well."

Carreras on whether the nostalgia for a 'golden age' can impact negatively on young singers:  "Nostalgia has always existed and will always exist. When I was young, everyone looked back to Callas, Tebaldi, Corelli and Di Stefano. Now the same thing is happening towards the singers of my generation. It's a wheel that goes around and young singers have to accept that.  Because when they know how to demonstrate their own talent, they can carry out their work with tranquillity."

Baratta (the sovrintendent of the Fondazione Toscanini) was quoted as saying that today's young singers have a wider preparation.  They can read music to perfection and often play an instrument as well.  He spoke of the need to create a process of osmosis between veteran and young artists, citing the operas exclusively cast with young singers in Busseto which have had great success, most notably the Aida directed by Zeffirelli  and the Vespri Siciliani.

The Mayor of Busseto, Luca Laurini, expressed his great satisfaction: "To Carreras we can only say thank you. Only a few years ago, it seemed impossible that he would be with us. His presence is fundamental and has raised the profile within the province of both Busseto and the Terre Verdiane". ['Terre Verdiane' refers to the localities near Parma that are associated with Verdi's life, including his estate at Sant'Agata]

From 'Carreras cerca voci verdiane'
by Carla Maria Casanova, Gazzetta del Sud, 1 April 2003...

This article was much briefer than the previous two, with similar comments quoted for Carreras.  The journalist, Carla Maria Casanova, pointed out that Carreras returns frequently to Italy, especially to Milan and to Sardinia for summer vacations with a friend who has a boat.  She also cited Carreras' "absolutely glorious career" and how it centered largely on Verdi. Both the first opera, Ballo in maschera, and the last opera,
that he sang at La Scala were by Verdi.

Carreras on the determination that a young singer needs: "Determination in both senses. That is, to be ready for any sacrifice in order to sing.  It is a very hard career [una carriera molto dura]."

Casanova then bizarrely misquotes Carreras (or perhaps entirely invents a quote?) re the projected production of Tiefland [Terra Baixa] in Madrid, Barcelona and Washington, She claims Carreras said "it was written by a Catalan composer Angel Guimerà in 1912 based on a text by D'Albert, a 19th century German writer."

Carreras has been working on the score and text for over two years. Without doubt, he did not say that. D'Albert is the composer and the opera is based on a text by Angel Guimerà.  The only thing the journalist got right were their nationalities - a little object lesson on why you shouldn't believe everything you read in newspapers.

For ticket information on the 2003 Concorso Voci Verdiane di Busseto see the Carreras Scedule


This page was last updated on: April 2, 2003