Tonight I was given the opportunity to watch one of the greatest tenors sing live in the Perth Convention Centre. With Jose Carreras currently in Perth to perform as apart of his Final World Tour, I can finally say I have watched one of The Three tenors in Concert!
I was first introduced to The Three Tenors before I was born. After admitting my desires to perform opera in year 12, my mother admitted she had blasted The Ten Tenors while she was pregnant with me. Therefore, you can imagine how special it was to share this performance tonight with her.
Performing with WASO, soprano Antoinette Halloran, and conductor David Gimenez (who I just found out is Carreras’ nephew), Jose was in fine form tonight as he sang through some of the greats that had made him famous. The program included West Side Story, Pagliacci, Man of La Mancha, adnd famous Italian Art Song. A man of 71 years old, Carreras is not quite the cheeky young tenor we see performing with Domingo and Pavarotti. He walks on to stage with a slight limp in his walk and is slow, careful about his movements and somewhat frail looking. But all is forgotten when he opens his mouth to sing! This is the voice of someone who, through great training, has taken care of their voice and kept each facet of it safe throughout a career spanning over 40 years and 60 operatic roles.
A lot can be learnt from watching José Carreras perform tonight. His repertoire is programmed perfectly to give him the rest that he needs to soar to high notes later in the program (presented later whilst singing Vesti la Giubba from Pagliacci). The concert is titled “A Life in Music” and personally I was afraid of a concert of complete “popera”. But Carreras has included popular songs from all aspects of his life; West Side Story, The Three Tenors, and a program of Italian and Spanish art song, German, French and Italian opera. He also presents a program of “less is more”, resulting in a well deserved request for not just one – but FOUR – encore pieces.
My ONE criticism is… Why the Convention Centre? A perfect venue for graduations and comedians, but it was not designed for opera singers. Originally the performance planned for the Perth Arena, but was moved to the Convention Centre due to an inability to fill the Arena. With the steep stairs and lack of handrails at the Convention Centre, many elderly audience members struggled big time to get to their seats. When the concert started, sound quality up from the back was not balanced and many people felt dissatisfied and let down by the sound they were hearing. This was NOT AT ALL to do with Carreras’ singing, but the dull acoustics of the Centre. Surely a venue such as the Perth Concert Hall or even Burswood Theatre would’ve been a better choice for live singing? Moving down to the 5th row in the second half, this concert was a completely different experience and was thrilling and superbly satisfying. I assume though in the end it came down to the amount of audience members. With the Concert Hall too small, and the Perth Arena too big, Convention Centre was just right for our audiences. I just wish the acoustic had been just right as well!
Jose Carreras “A Life in Music” was a beautiful night out. Giving us a chance to hear this fabulous tenor at work, it was extremely satisfying and rewarding and we were all left wanting more. This was a one in a lifetime opportunity to see a fabulous tenor perform live for possibly the final time in Perth. As the audience demanded for hit songs such as Nessun Dorma and O Sole Mio, Jose sang a brief moment of the latter and continued with his program for the night, soaring to high notes that prove you can still sing well at 71!
Written by Katherine Goyder