Opera great Jose Carreras’s love of soccer

I have no intention of writing anything about Jose Carreras’ artistic endeavors, or the world-renowned Spanish tenor’s recent performance at the Herod Atticus Theater [with Greek-born mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa]. The eight encores demanded by the Athenian audience and overall superb evening received thorough coverage from people more experienced and specialized in the field than I. But please allow me to make reference to our conversation after the Spaniard’s performance, under the shade of the Acropolis, tucked away in a cool Athenian spot. This article’s sole purpose is to help eradicate the guilt felt by people who share a virtually equal love for opera and soccer. As cacophonic as this may sound, there are plenty of individuals out there who are equally mesmerized by Verdi’s «Aida» and Ronaldinho’s dancing on the pitch. Carreras is one of them. A dedicated supporter of Barcelona [where the Brazilian star Ronaldinho plays his club-level soccer], Carreras, a resident of his native Catalonian city, is a fixture in the VIP stand at the club’s Mou Camp stadium. Isn’t Ronaldinho a dancer? Yes, he dances on the pitch. His moves are orchestrated by a music he hears inside him and dances to. Do you really love soccer that much? I love Barcelona, my native land’s club, and I’m elated that, after five years, we became champions again. I feel fantastic. I think Barcelona was treated unfairly [by the refereeing] and, subsequently, deprived of a place in [last season’s] Champions League final. Unfortunately, Chelsea eliminated us with an illegitimate goal that [referee Pierluigi] Mr Collina counted. This man [recently retired] had a problem! He always wanted to be the star on the ground, above the players. Barcelona paid for this vice of his. How do you see things developing this season? Will there be a continuity in your team’s course. I think Barcelona has developed into a real team and will stay on top. They’re not the «galacticos» [as Spanish rivals Real Madrid have been dubbed], but they play well and consistently. Do you know that Rivaldo [former Barcelona star] is now playing in Greece? Of course. He is a great player. He spent three very good years with Barcelona. He’s an inspired player. A «lead violinist.» It’s now well past midnight, almost three, and this major artist accompanies me out of the garden, where we held our conversation. Carreras is approached by several ladies seeking autographs. He smiles, welcomes them, has pictures taken alongside the group, and signs off with: «I thank you all. It was a wonderful evening for me. It’s a privilege for every artist to perform at the foot of the Acropolis.»

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