He made a film early in his career, but thereafter, unlike most of his rivals, he steered clear of the cameras.. Occasionally he walked out of a production he felt unfaithful to the composer's intentions.
Kraus appeared with all the leading divas of the day: Callas, Caballé, Sutherland especially, Scotto, Anderson and even Tebaldi. But he sang only in Italian and French works, apart from those in his native Spanish. In all he sang about 40 different roles, which were gradually whittled down to around ten, with Verdi, Donizetti and Massenet to the forefront.
Alfredo Kraus had Austrian father, a journalist, and a Spanish mother. He qualified as an industrial engineer before he took up musical studies in Barcelona and later Milan. He was almost 30 by the time he made his stage debut, in Cairo. An impresario engaged him for the Duca in Rigoletto but insisted that he needed a Cavardossi in Tosca as well for his Cairo season. .
The same impresario was responsible for bringing Kraus to London in 1957 when he appeared in an Italian season at the Stoll Theatre in La traviata opposite the Violettas of Virginia Zeani and Renata Scotto. The following year he sang the same role opposite Callas in Lisbon, a performance which happily has been preserved on record. His Covent Garden debut came in 1959 in Lucia di Lammermoor: Sutherland had already established her reputation in the title role but Kraus's performance as Edgardo won him almost equal acclaim.
His Covent Garden appearances thereafter were well spread out. The house never heard him as Massenet's Des Grieux, one of his most famous roles, nor in Bellini, a composer in whose music he excelled. Kraus built his career first in Italy with the bel canto parts in Italian opera and the lyric ones in the French repertoire - normally sung in Italian in those days. His American debut was at Chicago in 1962 as Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore) and he sang in the leading houses there - San Francisco, Dallas and the Met as well as Chicago to which he remained ever faithful - season after season.
Fortunately these houses played French opera, with which Kraus's name became more and more closely associated, in French. He made his first operatic appearance at the Paris Opéra in 1984, although he had earlier given a concert there. The work was Werther, another of his most famous roles, and the production was moved in specially for him: by tradition Werther was given at the Opéra Comique but Kraus had no wish for a debut at the smaller house. Alfredo Kraus made a number of recordings, which included Verdi's La traviata, Rigoletto and Falstaff. But he will probably be best remembered for his outstanding interpretations of French opera including Massenet,
Kraus last appeared on stage in Madrid in January, but cancelled all appearances after he was confined to a hospital in May. His wife Rosa died in 1997. He had a son and three daughters.