ON a humid but clear evening in Avenham Park, opera lovers watched as two unique talents came together for the first time.
Opera star Jose Carreras and Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins are cut from very different cloths.
He has spent his life mostly in the rarified world of classical opera, a protégé of stars like Montserrat Caballe.
She is less an opera diva and more a singer of popular classics.
Both cherished an ambition to perform together and last night that ambition was realised.
To tumultuous applause the slight and greying figure of Carreras emerges opening with Tosti’s La Serenata and Marechiare. Before he sweeps from stage top allow Jenkins to make her entrance. Escorted on by Jose’s nephew, the conductor of the Manchester Camerata Orchestra, David Gimenez Carreras she sparkles in a floor length white evening dress with glittering detail.
She proves her populist bent with a haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah before returning to the classical with a note perfect rendition of Delibes’ Les Filles de Cadix.
The Camerata play the overture from Die Fledermaus before both stars return for the big moment.
With Katherine in a show stopping red gown, their voices unite at last as they duet on Love Unspoken from the Merry Widow.
Carreras’ famous rich timbre, undimmed by his 65 years, blends perfectly with Jenkins’ warm mezzo-soprano in the gathering dusk.
Throughout the programme as a whole the pair compliment each other well Carreras draws from the classical oeuvre with renditions of greats like Valente’s Passione.
Jenkins provides a lighter strand, mixing popular tunes like the theme from the Godfather with well-known classics such as the Habanera from Carmen.
And her stunning array of show-stopping gowns provides a vivid counterpoint to Carreras’ stern formal evening wear. The pair win a standing ovation from the crowd as they duet a final time on tonight from West Side Story before the evening ends with a fabulous firework display as the Camerata play us out with the well-known strains of Les Toreadors.