Biography of Montserrat Caballé (1933-VVVV)

Montserrat Caballé.

Spanish soprano of international fame, considered the best soprano of her generation. It is one of the largest global figures of lyrical song. Known by his great vocal technique and versatility of his voice, as well as performances of Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi, his repertoire is immense, it covers close to ninety interpretations, probably one of the most extensive of this century.

Montserrat Caballé Folc was born on April 12, 1933 in Barcelona, in the Igualada Street in the neighborhood of Gràcia. Its name comes from the famous Virgin of Montserrat; his parents placed him after making a promise to the Virgin, when it seemed that his life was in danger while still in gestation; born in a family of very modest, during his childhood spent many hardships; his father was employed in a company of chemical fertilizers and his mother helped working on what was found. As a child, music has fascinated Montserrat; I listened to his mother and his aunt playing the piano and spent hours listening to on the radio to their favorite singers, in addition to already attending a concert and representation of opera from the age of eight. At that same age high school he/she entered the Conservatory to study music; at the age of fourteen he/she started singing courses with Eugenia Kemeny and later studied lieder with Conchita Badía and Repertoire of opera with the teacher Napoleone Annovazzi and Pedro Vallribera. He/She also began to study commercial expertise. During that time his father was sick and had to leave his job; Montserrat, being bound to help his family, would not, however, abandon his studies, so he/she began to work in all kinds of tasks, selling items, cutting scarves in a store, picking up points to stockings, etc. However, he/she still found time to learn English and French.

Big fan of good singers of the time, evenings that leaving Renata Tebaldi's Act at the Liceo, Montserrat was at the exit of the theatre artists among a group of admirers, only to see about his idol. As ongoing difficulties at home, Montserrat was encouraged to visit the family Beltrán Mata, who had spoken unto him his uncle Alfredo, a loving family of art that protected the young artists. It got certificates of their teachers and family Beltrán Mata responded to him offering him a pension of a thousand pesetas a month so that it could continue their studies. At age twenty-one he/she gave them terminated, winning the award special of the Conservatori del Liceu. Then it continued to form their repertoire until in 1956 his patrons advised her to go to Italy, running them with all their stay and travel expenses. He/She was given a letter in which arose the great baritone Raimundo Torres, who was at the San Carlo in Naples, singing Boris Godunov. Thanks to him, Montserrat got Siciliani, director of the Maggio Fiorentino, who hired her to hear it. When he/she sang for the first time, acting in the short life, it was among the audience the theatre director of the Opera of Basel, fascinated by her voice, hired her for a period of three years, but giving freedom to sing in other rooms. His brilliant career began with La Bohème in 1956, representation by which claimed one hundred francs. Then he/she sang in Vienna playing the Doña Elvira of Don Giovanni; in 1958 he/she made his first Salome in Vienna; the Opera in Bremen (Germany) played for the first time the roles of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, and Tatiana Eugenio Oneguín, Tchaikovsky's, and at la Scala performed one of the girls flower Parsifal. He/She sang in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

He made his debut at the Liceo de Barcelona on January 7, 1962 starring in the premiere in Spain of Arabella, of Richard Strauss, and his fame was important when it debuted in 1964 in the city of Mexico, with Puccini's Manon Lescaut, the same year in which married the tenor Bernabé Martí.

But his definitive consecration came in 1965, when he/she was offered to replace Marilyn Horne at the opera of Donizetti Lucrezia Borgia, in a memorable representation, which brought the audience in one of the largest ovations that are recalled in the New York theater and that opened the doors of all the rooms in the world standing at the Carnegie Hall in New York. Since then there have been several works of Donizetti which have again seen the light to be performed by it; the same has happened with several little-known works by Verdi. Montserrat Caballé, in addition to representing the classical heroines, in recent years has begun a large research effort, resurrecting beautiful works and authors less well known to the general public, such as La Fiamma (1934), of Ottorio Respighi, La Vestale (1807), Gaspare Spontini, or Saffo (1840), from Giovanni Pacini, Demofoonte, of Cherubini, Agnes di Hohenstaufen of Spontini, Ermione, pirate and Il viaggio a Reims, all of Rossini. His favorite works are Bellini's Norma, La Traviata by Verdi and Strauss Salomé.

Woman with a strong charisma and a wonderful voice of wide range and powerful modulation, gets, with their filados, middle voices and pianissimi, that the beauty of his singing is overflowing and shocking. His extensive repertoire ranges from the baroque to pop and other lands of light music, and ranges from Mozart to Verdi, Donizetti to Strauss, passing by Puccini, Bellini, Rossini, Wagner, etc. With their interpretations has proven to possess extraordinary talent comic and tragic, especially when it has been directed by such personalities as Ronconi and José Luis Alon, among others. He/She has performed in major theaters in the world, where has always achieved resounding successes. Caballé is a magnificent singer who achieved this effect to the public through his voice and his presence. Thanks to the versatility of their voice you can interpret from the papers more dramatic until the most romantic.

In 1992 were dismissed by a long season of the operatic stage with the interpretation of Il viaggio a Reims by Rossini, at the Covent Garden Londoners. Their health problems advised the diva to limit its commitments and professional, for almost a decade, his voice is lavished in sporadic recitals and concerts. Recovered from multiple surgeries, the Catalan soprano chose the school as a setting for his return to the stage of the opera and on January 4, 2002 presented Enrique VIII, by Camille Saint-Saëns, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of his debut at the lyric Coliseum Barcelona.

His popularity grew and spread out of operatic scenarios to play light music, as the recording carried out jointly with the missing soloist of Queen, Freddie Mercury, on the occasion of the celebration of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, in 1992. In 1991 he/she was awarded the Prince of Asturias arts prize. Among the numerous prizes and awards that has Catholic is also the order of Isabella.

In March 2004 the Academy of Arts and Sciences of music granted the Honor Award of the 8th edition of the music awards in recognition throughout his career. In October of that same year he/she premiered at the Liceo a virtually unknown work of Jules Massenet, Cleopatra, in which shared the stage with his daughter Montserrat Martí and Malaga baritone Carlos Álvarez.

In April 2006, he/she received the prize lyrical Teatro Campoamor in its first edition, awarded to an entire career devoted to bel canto; the prize was failed in Oviedo by prestigious musical critics. On July 2, 2008 was invested doctor honoris causa by the Menéndez Pelayo International University in Santander.


GIRBAL HERNÁNDEZ, f.-hundred Spanish singers of opera and zarzuela. Madrid: Lira, 1994.