July 25, 2021

Montserrat Caballé dies: Ghosts in the opera

Montserrat Caballé dies: Ghosts in the opera

There are artistic figures that transcend the local to become international phenomena that through hard work, dedication and success manage to reach the category of unforgettable myths. One of them was Montserrat Caballé, one of the most emblematic figures in the history of the Gran Teatre del Liceu in its more than 170 years. An artist who formed precisely in the same building of Las Ramblas, in the Superior Conservatory of Music of the Lyceum, an entity that built the Gran Teatre in 1847 to ensure the funding of its chairs of music and singing.

Among the myths of the Liceu, as have all the great theaters, Montserrat Caballé has been one of the most important. In addition to Barcelona born, the singer came to reign at the Liceu thanks to his extraordinary talent and has left in his annals an impressive legacy. Caballé mainly addressed the bel canto repertoire with Bellini and Donizetti, but she was also a great Verdian, Puccinian, Straussian or Verista diva, as well as offering Baroque or Wagnerian operas. It was with the bel canto that she became one of the most important ambassadors of the Donizetti Renaissance, but also with the Bellini characters whose Norma or Imogene is a world reference. The Liceu was a great bel canto temple thanks to the contribution of Caballé, who recovered works such as «Roberto Devereux», «Lucrezia Borgia», «Gemma di Vergy», «Parisina d'Este», «Maria Stuarda» or «Caterina Cornaro »

The Barcelona soprano, who always felt like a universal Catalan, has sung at the Liceu more than 200 times and about 50 characters. He debuted on January 7, 1962 with the Spanish premiere of Richard Strauss' opera "Arabella". A few days after this first triumph was consolidated before the public high school with his participation in "Don Giovanni", and later came a "Madama Butterfly" in which the tenor was Bernabé Martí, who shortly after would be her husband. In 1966 her international consecration arrived after replacing Marilyn Horne at the Carnegie Hall in New York in "Lucrezia Borgia", and a few months later at the Liceu when she was received as a great diva and obtaining a triumphant success as the Leonora of «Il Trovatore » In the sixties he consolidated his reign especially with the four titles of the 1968-69 academic year; «Roberto devereux» and «Maria Stuarda», where, as Roger Alier comments in his book on Barcelona theater: «La Caballé showed that, vocally, he could do whatever he pleased; coloratura, lyrical flights, incredible vocal "threads", with an impressive scenic and vocal authority ", besides" Manon "by Massenet and" Tannhäuser ". From then on and for several decades the great Catalan diva kept reserving Christmas parties to be with her family and the Liceu. They were arriving "La Traviata", an extraordinary "Otello", his first "Norma", the spectacular "Lucrezia Borgia", "Il Pirata" with Bernabé Martí. In the seventies he began to sing along with the great Spanish tenors such as Josep Carreras and Plácido Domingo. First "Don Carlo", "Luisa Miller", "Adriana Lecouvreur" with which the consecration of the Barcelonian tenor and "Tosca" would arrive. While from January 1973 the successes began with Plácido Domingo started with "Un ballo in maschera", "Aida" and "I vespri siciliani". In his second "Norma" came a first tribute to the diva in the last performance and then some titles with Jaime Aragall as "Caterina Cornaro" or "Don Carlos." In 1976 he premiered "Medea" by Cherubini popularized by Maria Callas and a year later "Salomé" with a second tribute for his 100 performances. In 1977 the last opera of the tandem Caballé and Domingo «L'Africana» de Meyerbeer. Since then, and especially in the seventies and eighties, the triumphs and tributes with titles such as "Adrianna Lecouvreur", "Anna Bolena", "Giulio Cesare", "Don Carlos", "Herodiade", "The gentleman of the rosa »,« Semiramide »,« Armide »,« Saffo »,« Mefistofele »,« Salomé »,« Christopher Columbus »,« La Fiamma »or« La Vierge »(1998). His support for the Liceu has been constant and his fame has grown along with that of the Teatro del Liceu, a coliseum that he always carried in his heart and that he supported in his most difficult moments such as the fire of 1994. His last recital homage was on 3 January 2012. Since his unexpected and meaningful death the Liceu has prepared a book of condolences in the theater lobby and all the remaining functions of the inaugural "I puritani" have been dedicated to him.


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