June 21, 2021

Five key moments in the life of one of the greatest lyric divas

Five key moments in the life of one of the greatest lyric divas

Montserrat Caballé got a work base and a master vocal technique to reach the top of the lyric. Born into a humble family, she began studying music theory thanks to her mother. It was postwar. His first great moment came at age 11, when he managed to enter the Conservatory of Music of the Liceo. Caballé dedicated his life to music. His great shyness was not an obstacle for him to climb on stage for the first time in 1950. He did it in style, at the Fortuny Theater in Reus, interpreting the leading role of "La serva padrona", by Giovanni Battista Pergolessi.

In 1956 he made the great leap and joined the company of the Municipal Theater of Basel, with which he debuted in the opera with Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and with which he debuted outside Spain with a large repertoire of classics . From "La Bohème", "Tosca" or "Aída". The Bremen Opera decided to have her in 1960, where she began to specialize in bel canto. It would take him two more years to return to Spain, to debut at the Lyceum with "Arabella", where he began his "reign", although his performances have been heard for years on the main stages around the world. In 1964 she coincided with Bernabé Martí, who would become her husband, in the cast of "Madame Buterfly".

A close woman, of great humanity and who always showed a particular sense of humor, the soprano who died at the age of 85 began to forge her myth when, on April 20, 1965, she had to replace at Carnegie Hall in New York with a indisposed Marilyn Horne, remembering her interpretation of Lucrezia Borgia since then.

The prestigious The New York Times came to emphasize that Montserrat Caballé was the owner of a combination voice between the legendary Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. From her voice it has been emphasized that she was full, powerful and beautiful, that she was endowed with smoothness, sharpness, purity or softness, and that her timbre was iridescent and iridescent.

In addition to the Lyceum, the Caballé was common in the most important operatic costumes, whether it was the Scala in Milan, the Covent Garden in London, the operas in Paris and Vienna or the Metropolitan Opera in the city of skyscrapers.

However, he always felt especially attached to the Liceo de Barcelona, ​​where she sang for the first time on April 13, 1953, a year before finishing his singing studies at the conservatory of the musical institution, although professionally he did not make his debut in Barcelona's opera theater until January 7, 1962, being acclaimed by the public and critics.

When, in 1994, a fire devastated the theater, he sang excitedly among the ruins, allocated 36,000 euros for the reconstruction and never had a "no" for a performance at the Coliseum on the Rambla.

Nor did he miss the 50th anniversary of his debut on that stage and on January 3, 2012, supported by a crutch lined in black, saw how the theater of great occasions surrendered to her, wrapped by friends like Josep Carreras, Joan Pons or Juan Diego Flórez, and his daughter Montserrat Martí.

"I feel proud of taking the name of the Lyceum around the world," she had proclaimed on more than one occasion, and in fact, in 2002 she became the first female member of the elitist Círculo del Liceo in its 165-year history.

When he turned half a century on stage, Caballé explained that, to achieve an extensive career like his, "you need the brain to work well to know what to sing, to develop a suitable repertoire for each age".

In his prolific career, nothing was resisted and both interpreted "Così fan tutte" by Mozart, as "Norma" or "I puritani", Bellini, as Verdi's repertoire, or the protagonists of "Isolda" and "Sieglinde" , by Wagner.

"Tosca", "La Bohème", "Madame Butterfly" and "Turandot", Puccini's quartet, were also part of a repertoire that reached about ninety characters.

Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Josep Carreras, Jaume Aragall, Joan Pons or his own husband, the Aragonese tenor Bernabé Martí, sang alongside him on numerous occasions.

Nor can forget his performance in the White House in 1985 before Ronald Reagan; the endearing homage that Madrid's Teatro de la Zarzuela dedicated three years later or perhaps the most unforgettable moment of his career and one of the greats in the history of music it was his duo with Freddy Mercury, leader of Queen. Mercury fell in love with Caballé's voice and did everything possible to coincide with her. Finally they recorded "Barcelona", a hymn of the city that became the official anthem of the Olympic Games of 1982. The collaboration between both, to which they joined a great timidity and an enormous talent, fajó a great friendship.

With the arrival of the new century, came the bad moments of Caballé. First there were his problems with the Treasury for paying taxes in Andorra when he lived in Barcelona. The artist recognized the fraud of half a million euros and accepted a six-month prison sentence.

The problems with the treasury worsened his health. In 1983 he had heart failure and three years later he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor (which he published in 2006); in 1996 she underwent epigastric hernia surgery, an ailment that took her back to the operating room in 2000 and 2001, but the most serious one came in 2012, when she suffered a stroke in Russia that caused a fracture of the humerus.

These problems were spacing more and more his appearances in public, although Caballé never announced a definitive withdrawal from the stages. His last performance was in August 2014, within the Cambrils Music Festival, where he performed with his daughter Montserrat Martí.

His health condition was delicate in recent months. In mid-September he had to enter the hospital because of a gallbladder problem. The treatment was being positive and the family ventured that he could be discharged soon. However, a complication in his health caused him to die last night.


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