Josep Maria Carreras i Coll (born 5 December 1946, Barcelona), better known as José Carreras, is a Spanish Catalan tenor particularly known for his performances in the operas of Verdi and Puccini. He made his debut on the opera stage at the age of 11 as Trujamán in Manuel de Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro and went on to a career that encompassed over 60 roles on the stages of the world's leading opera houses and in the recording studio. He gained fame with a wider audience as one of The Three Tenors along with Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti in a series of mass concerts that began in 1990 and continued until 2003. Carreras is also known for his humanitarian work as the president of the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation (La Fundació Internacional Josep Carreras per a la Lluita contra la Leucèmia), which he established following his own recovery from the disease in 1988.
The youngest of three children, Carreras was born in Sants, a working class district in Barcelona, Spain. In 1951, his family emigrated to Argentina in an unsuccessful search for a better life. However, within a year they had returned to Sants where Carreras was to spend the rest of his childhood and teenage years.
He showed an early talent for music and particularly singing, which intensified at the age of 6 when he saw Mario Lanza in The Great Caruso. The story recounted in his autobiography and numerous interviews is that after seeing the film, Carreras sang the arias incessantly to his family, especially 'La donna è mobile', often locking himself in the family's bathroom when they became exasperated with his impromptu concerts. At that point, his parents, with the encouragement of his grandfather Salvador Coll, an amateur baritone, found the money for music lessons for him. At first he studied piano and voice with Magda Prunera, the mother of one of his childhood friends, and at the age of 8, he also started taking music lessons at Barcelona's Municipal Conservatory.