Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe, also known as “La Superba”, was born 89 years ago this Tuesday.
She was widely celebrated for her distinctive bel canto vocal technique and was also recognized for bringing opera to the charts by singing with Queen singer Freddie Mercury.
King Felipe VI of Spain called her “the great lady of opera, a legend of universal culture, the best of the best”.
In his honor, Google changed its logo in six countries. This is his story:
The depression and the Spanish civil war
María de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé was born in Barcelona on April 12, 1933.
His former middle-class family struggled financially during the Depression of the 1930s and the Spanish Civil War.
“Despite the civil war and the difficult post-war period, when you never knew where the next crust of bread would come from, [my parents] They were always happy and optimistic,” Caballé later told Serafín García Ibáñez in El Correo de la UNESCO.
They also appreciated classical music. Carles Caballé i Borras and his wife, Anna Folch, used to listen to his opera collection in front of the young Caballé, who showed great musical talent.
At the age of 13, Caballe’s parents managed to enroll her in the Liceo Conservatory.
He trained with Eugenia Kemeny, who taught the students the breathing training. Due to this training, the opera singer later said that she maintained a long career with no deterioration in her vocal quality.
Caballé also studied with the music director of the conservatory, Napoleone Annovazzi, and later delved into the literature of Spanish song.
He graduated at age 20 and began auditioning for opera productions in Italy.
#A day like today (1933) the soprano Montserrat Caballé was born in Barcelona. You have to see her in all her splendor. Here, in ‘María Stuarda’, an opera we enjoyed in 1979 👉 https://t.co/z0kFSdyfFb #Happy Tuesday #Good morning #12April pic.twitter.com/iAAWhLLeWa
— RTVE Archive (@ArchivoRTVE) April 12, 2022
Translation: A day like today the soprano Montserrat Caballé was born in Barcelona. You have to see her in all her splendor here, in María Stuarda, an opera that we enjoyed in 1979, ”the Spanish agency RTVE tweeted this Tuesday.
After failing to land any roles in Italy, he focused his efforts on Switzerland. There, she found a role at the Basel Opera and, in the following years, began performing throughout Europe, singing the parts of more than 40 roles from the late 1950s to the early 1960s.
In 1964, the singer married the Spanish tenor Bernabé Martí. They had two children, Montserrat Marti and Bernabe Marti.
Wider international recognition came in 1965 when she performed in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Her performance, a complete success, led her to debut that same year at the Metropolitan Opera, as Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust.
Cabelle’s natural ability to sing in multiple styles opened different doors and exposed her to a variety of audiences. Another key moment in her career came in 1987, when she and her close friend Mercury recorded Barcelona, the eventual anthem of the 1992 Olympic Games in the Spanish city.
— S Ξ V (@S3V_B) July 31, 2019
Cabelle faced many health challenges throughout his career, including a benign brain tumor, heart attack, and phlebitis. Those conditions led her to cancel her performances several times.
“I cancel when I’m sick,” she told The Chicago Tribune in 1995. “I’ve had seven major surgeries in my life. I have had tumors. I have had two children with caesarean sections; you don’t get up and sing the day after one of those. I had an accident in 1969 in New York that required surgery and it took me four months to recover. I don’t cancel out of temperament.”
In 2015, she was found guilty of tax fraud and faced a six-month suspended sentence and a €250,000 ($278,000) fine for claiming residency in Andorra.
He died in Barcelona at the age of 85.
“A great ambassador of our country dies, an internationally recognized opera soprano,” said the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez. “Her voice of hers and kindness of hers will always stay with us.”