The Three Tenors: Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras

The Three Tenors
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The Three Tenors are made up of three of the world's most famous and beloved operatic tenors which include Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti.

Who Are the Three Tenors?

  • Jose Carreras (1946-) Born in Barcelona, Spain, Jose Carreras has been performing since he was 11 years old. Professionally, Carreras began his operatic career on December 19, 1970, when he sang the principal role of Gennaro alongside Montserrat Caballe in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia. Aside from performing, Carreras serves as president for the José Carreras International Leukaemia Foundation, which he founded after successfully overcoming his own battle with cancer.
  • Placido Domingo (1941-) With over 100 operas and 147 roles under his belt, Placido Domingo is a seasoned operatic star. Born in Madrid, Spain, the celebrated tenor made his operatic debut as “Alfredo” in "La Triviata" at Monterrey, Mexico in 1961. Just as Carreras and Pavarotti, Domingo has performed in opera houses around the world. Now in his mid-70s and understanding the changes in his voice, Domingo sings baritone roles instead. In 1993, Domingo founded a young singer competition called Operalia. The competition is open to 18-32-year-olds and is hosted in a different city every year.  Out of nearly 1,000 entrants, only the top 40 are selected for the competition.
  • Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007) Born in Modena, Italy, Pavarotti had dreams of becoming a soccer goalkeeper, and it turned out he was quite good. However, his interest in music edged its way ahead after he won first place in the Llangollen International Singing Competition in Wales. Pavarotti went on to become one of the first opera stars to have nearly his entire performing career recorded musically and visually. He easily sold out shows and performed for millions of people in single performances.

The Origin of the Three Tenors

The idea for the Three Tenors came from Mario Dradi, an Italian manager and producer. Dradi's idea was to create a group of tenors for a concert and donate a portion of the proceeds to Jose Carreras's foundation after his successful treatment of leukemia. Jose Carreras, along with his two friends, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, agreed to perform as the Three Tenors.

Dradi's idea came to fruition on July 7, 1990, the day before the FIFA World Cup in Rome. The concert was watched by over 800 million viewers and was so well received that when a recording of the concert was released, it became the biggest selling classical album in history.  

The album, "Carreras - Domingo - Pavarotti: the Three Tenors in Concert," set a Guinness World Record. Because of the trio's instant success, they performed at the following three FIFA World Cups: Los Angeles in 1994, Paris in 1998, and Yokohama in 2002.

The tremendous reception of the Three Tenors was due largely in part to their incredible voices, down-to-earth, likable personalities, and song selections. The trio would regularly perform classic and well-known operatic arias, as well as popular Broadway show tunes that even the most novice classical music listener could love and appreciate. Given the trio's enormous popularity, imitations of the Three Tenors quickly arose all over the world, including the Three Canadian Tenors, the Chinese Tenors, as well as the Three Mo' Tenors.