August 3, 2021

Montserrat Caball, universal soprano of the 20th century – The Province

Montserrat Caball, universal soprano of the 20th century - The Province

The Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé, one of the most important lyric voices of the 20th century internationally, died at dawn yesterday, at 85, at the Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, ​​where she had been admitted since the middle of last month. September for a condition that had suffered for some time. The wake of the universal figure of the opera will open today, from 2:00 pm, at the Les Corts Funeral Home, where tomorrow the funeral will be held.

Born in Barcelona in 1933, María de Montserrat Viviana Concepcion Caballé i Folch, known throughout the world as Montserrat Caballé was a universal opera diva, at the height of the best sopranos of the 20th century, when critics and the public placed her at the level of Joan Sutherland, Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas. Throughout his famous career, Caballé performed hundreds of operas and concerts in the main theaters around the world along with the best orchestras and conductors.

As for its origins, the soprano could educate her voice only because the family of the industrialist and politician Eusebi Bertrand paid her the continuation of musical studies, since she was born (1933) in a humble family, and, thus, was ten years at the Liceu Conservatory.

But not all encouraged her: during her first audition, in 1956 at the Rome opera, the agent who heard her told her to go home, get married and have children, because her character was not for the "madness" of the theater , despite his good voice, although it is worth noting that, after meeting again some time later, he ended up asking him never to reveal his name.

However, Caballé did not follow that discouraging advice, and the following auditions worked: in 1956 he entered the Opera de Basilea, where he assimilated a broad repertoire, but considered leaving the music shortly after, during his three years in Bremen (1959-62). ). He was depressed by the mechanical work in this theater, in contrast to the "joy and romance" of the Swiss company, and his brother and artistic advisor, Carles, asked him to spend a year recovering the illusion before leaving everything: he recovered it, and owed much to the discipline of Bremen.


In 1962, the singer officially debuted as a soprano at the Liceu with the Spanish premiere of Arabella, with which he triumphed – he performed there 28 seasons in a row, with fifty opera and 70 performances until 1989 – and the following year he resigned to sing Valkyrie by disagreements, but the theater fire brought them together in 1994, and he acted repeatedly: between those four decades are the best moments of his career.

In addition, Caballé went on to promote the tenor Josep Carreras at the Gran Teatro del Liceu when he was a young singer, and was also decisive with Josep Pons, when he revealed that he was a baritone and not bass. When interpreting the opera Turandot she met her husband, the tenor Bernabé Martí, with whom she married in 1964. A year later, in 1965 she met her internationally when she triumphed at Carnegie Hall (New York) with her first Lucrezia Borgia replacing Marilyn Horne, who had just given birth: she was applauded for 20 minutes.

The success of that same opera was repeated in London, where he also triumphed later in Il Pirata singing with crutches after breaking a knee.

The English capital was also the place where he recorded most of his albums, and also, in the Covent Garden sang the 'Tosca' with the same staging that Zeffirelli had created for Maria Callas, a friend of his and who advised her then, ten days before dying (1977). In that same decade, Callas herself, the great Rule of the twentieth century, he admitted to Caballé that he had surpassed her in this work by Bellini: his "Norma" was made public in the open air in the Teatro Antiguo de Orange in 1974, the year in which he was also diagnosed with a malignant tumor, and another in 1985, but exceeded them.

Her reputation as a diva was based on her quality, but they also helped some reactions in rehearsals and live before directors and public protesters, although her image was natural and popular, and she also lent herself to singing with Freddie Mercury, Vangelis, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. In the last years of her career she taught in Andorra, where she became a resident and its consequent fiscal advantages were controversial, but she claimed that her link with the Principality came from 1969, when she could not have economic reasons to move. Another of her controversies -pasajera- was for her electoral support to CiU, when they included her in an electoral list without permission: the federation-which she had supported but from outside-asked for forgiveness, although she considered it an abuse of trust.

Likewise, the magical outdoor concert of the soprano with the singer of the band Queen, Freddie Mercury, in 1988, together with the one who recorded the theme, also remains in the collective memory. Barcelona and championed the 1992 Olympic Games. The song was created in 1988, when the soprano contacted him after having asked him to organize the games a musical composition.

Mercury had declared himself a fan of the opera and, more specifically, of the Spanish soprano, with whom he forged a friendship. The official premiere of the song took place that same year at La Nit in Barcelona when the Olympic flag arrived from Seoul. The song became a real success due to the projection of the video in which the voices of both artists are mixed.

In January 2012, the Gran Teatro del Liceu commemorated the 50th anniversary of his debut with an exhibition and a great concert in which he was accompanied by friends and fellow students, such as his brother, Carles Caballé; his daughter Montserrat Bernabé with his family, and the baritone Josep Pons, as well as the senior staff of the cultural policy.

After several concerts in full form, such as the one held at the Madrid Arena that June, Caballé had to cancel a recital at the Auditorio de Girona in late October after suffering a fall that caused a fracture of the humerus and a slight stroke. In fact, in recent years, his health ailments were also news by causing the cancellation of some commitments. 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 surgery for epigastric hernia, a condition that brought her back to the operating room in 2000 and 2001.

In her last years, Caballé starred on the front pages of the media when, in 2015, a judge in Barcelona sentenced her to six months in prison for a crime against the Public Treasury, following a pact by the singer with the State Attorney's Office and Attorney's Office. the one that recognized a tax fraud of 508,562 euros in the IRPF of 2010, although he did not enter prison.

Among other distinctions, Caballé received the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and the Gold Medal of the Generalitat of Catalonia, and was also named ambassador of good will for Unesco. The soprano leaves in this world her husband, Bernabé, and their children, Montsita and Bernabé.


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