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José was born on 5th December 1946 as the youngest of three children. His early passion for singing increased when he saw the American tenor Mario Lanza in the Great Caruso.
He studied at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica del Liceo and made his operatic debut at the Liceu as Flavio in 'Norma', coming to the attention of the famous opera diva Montserrat Caballe.
Caballe was to bring him to Covent Garden for his debut as a handsome Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata. The two singers went on to sing in more than 15 different operas together.
In 1987, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. A performance of I Pagliacci at the Vienna Staatsoper seemed likely to be his last, but his urge to sing gave him the strength to recover and, following a year of intensive treatment, he was able to resume his singing career.
He returned to the stage - and worldwide fame and fortune - in 1990, as one of the Three Tenors for the opening concert of the World Cup in Rome.
Next to Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, he looks surprisingly tiny: "OK, I am a small man," he says, "but you sing with the muscles, not with the fat. Size has got nothing to do with the voice".
As a child, José Carreras showed musical talent from an early age. He entertained the passengers on a steamship from Argentina to Barcelona, and at 8 years old he gave his first public performance, singing 'La Donna e Mobile' on Spanish national radio.