March 7, 2021

Montserrat Caballé dies: «I can not compete with you»

Montserrat Caballé dies: «I can not compete with you»


How to write about Montserrat without my heart breaking. It was part of my life for almost fifty years of friendship. For my part, with a total dedication, and, for his, with the extraordinary generosity he always showed towards me and my obsession to look for and buy "pirate" recordings of live performances. I have more than six hundred saved on hard disk – now, finally, relaunched -, cassette and video. Montserrat preferred them to the officers and I provided them, because she was not going to go from store to store. He barely listened to them and when they offered to make new recordings, he always rejected them: "I can not compete with myself".

I was the journalist who followed her the most in her travels around the world and since she began her career in that house of the old Infanta Carlota where her mother lived and when she died, Montserrat took the opportunity to store part of her scenic trousseau, which she kept , saved by titles, in boxes. I imagine that now they will donate this legacy to the Barcelona Theater Museum or among the main stages of the world.

Our relationship was always admirable, and I do not mean only the aspects that surround the cante, but its tremendous humanity. On the death of my mother, which happened in Barcelona at a very early hour, he sent Bernabé Martí to accompany me in the duel. The Jury, another dear friend, did it with Pedro Carrasco.

I followed her wherever she went. I saw her and applauded in Aix, one of her main places of success together with the New York Met, the Lyceum, which she loved so much and where she premiered up to a hundred titles, La Scala or Covent Garden where she debuted with the "Traviata" and came to impose his own wardrobe -the design of Dona Ana, his mother-, rejecting the bicolor of Visconti "because it does not favor me" since he took advantage of the montage created for Callas:

«Master, leave me because Maria was tall and thin, with long arms -on her piano she had a dedicated picture of Callas-, and I am small and broad».

A diva whim thought many, but Monserrat liked to be at ease and nothing better to be surrounded by ideas and maternal creations. Of an extreme simplicity and without ever losing the prospect of being considered "the last diva", he finished off the trio of three unrepeatable ones like Callas and Tebaldi. Renata adored and admired her and when she retired she did not miss one of her concerts at the Palau de la Música. Because the Caballé – my Forever Montserrat! – equal sang the most lyrical of Donizzetti that turned into a "hit" "Son of the Moon" by José María Cano. He sold thousands of copies of a genre that initially was strange but that dominated equally. I've been half a century behind her, waiting with excitement for the moment to shudder with her incomparable voice, no matter if she sang "Un ballo in maschera", she would approach the sweetness of "Adriana", the "Norma" or the famous "Oh, my dear babbino! " I will never forget when, on the anniversary of the Metropolitan, during the rehearsal of "Io sono un umile uncela" directed by John Willians, author of "Star Wars", he left it in hand because he was in a hurry: "Maestro , that the singers also breathe! ».

The bel canto is in mourning when his last diva is gone and I am broken to see that, after so many interventions, he did not overcome a kidney infection. With her, an important part of my life goes away and all those moments that I enjoyed because she allowed me to treat her, to have her affection and to see how her talent rendered to all the public. It would be difficult for me to choose between Montse and La Caballé. The two captivated me. I will console myself with their records but I doubt they fill the void. Again, orphan.

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