Josep Carreras already showed his musical skills as a child. He sang to the passengers of the ship in which he moved to Buenos Aires, where he lived with his family in 1951, for a year, then returning to Spain. At the age of 8, he made his first performance in public singing “La donna è mobile” on the Spanish radio. At age 11 he first appeared at the Barcelona Liceo as a young soprano in the role of Narrator of the opera by Manuel de Falla “El retablo de Maese Pedro” and in a small role in the second act of “La Bohème“. He studied at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu and debuted in 1970 as Ismael in “Nabucco” and “Norma“, drawing the attention of the soprano Montserrat Caballé. Caballé invited him to sing in the production of “Lucrezia Borgia“, the first great success of his careerg. He sang with her again in 1971, playing “Maria Stuarda” in London, and then many times afterwards.
In 1972, he made his debut in the United States in the role of Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly“. In 1973 he debuted in London, and in 1974 in Vienna playing “La Traviata“. At age 28, he had already sung 24 different operas. In 1984 he became even more popular among the general public thanks to the recording of the “opera version” of West Side Story, in the role of Tony, together with the soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, directed by Leonard Bernstein.
In 1984 he received the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
In 1987, while he was at the summit of his career, lymphoblastic leukaemia was diagnosed him, and doctors gave him little chance of survival. After hard treatment that included radiation therapy and chemotherapy and a transplant of bone marrow, Carreras could resume his career. In 1988 he founded the José Carreras Foundation against leukemia, an organization that supports economically leukemia research and maintains a bone marrow donor bank.
In 1990, Josep Carreras took part in the three Tenors concert, performed at the termal baths of Caracalla, along with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.
In 1999 he recorded at the Camp Nou the “Centenari Concert” on occasion of the centenary of Football Club Barcelona.