The internet is magic! I’ve just found the original performance that ‘turned me on’ to opera – back in the early 1970’s.
It’s by this young Spanish tenor called Jose Carreras, and he’s singing ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca.
It is still my favourite aria for a tenor [sorry Nessun Dorma] and you can hear it by clicking on the link below [not Youtube unfortunately so I can’t make it nice and easy for you. Also I have to warn you that the sound production is a bit iffy, but the voice is not].
Now here is the reason this particular performance is so special to me – I was there, in Budapest, in that audience, going nuts with a few thousand other opera fanatics. Me, the girl who didn’t like opera. You can hear us after the aria is finished.
I kid you not, we loved his performance so much we would not let the opera continue. He had to do a ridiculous number of encores – ten?…more? – before we, the audience, would let him rest.
Sadly, while I remembered the aria and the opera and the performance, I completely forgot the young tenor’s name, and by the time I came across him again in The Three Tenors, he had had leukemia and that glorious, soaring voice did not soar any more. So I thought it couldn’t be him.
And there my memories would have remained had David Prosser’s post not sent me down memory lane. On a whim I googled ‘Jose Carreras Cavaradossi Budapest’ and bingo…a hit, and not just any hit, it was the hit. Time travel for real.
Actually, the whole thing feels a little spooky. As I listen to the audience going mad at the end of the aria I keep expecting the camera to zoom in on the audience to find one enraptured 21 year old and her aunt. The old me looking back at the young me.
Didn’t happen, of course, but it does feel odd.
Anyway, I hope Jose Carreras remembers that night with as much fondness as I do.