Welcome to another Singer Sunday! Apologies for the delay, thanksgiving and such. Oh and I’m right in the middle of the opera.... come see us perform Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio! Click here for info!
Today’s Singer Sunday is focusing on one of the greatest singers of our time, and it brings me great sadness to say that she passed away last weekend on October 6. Montserrat Caballé was a huge inspiration to me as a singer. She had the most beautiful voice that just floated out like she wasn’t even trying. She had an incredible career as an opera singer, and helped bring opera to a wider audience with the help of one very popular rock star.
Montserrat Caballé was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1933. She studied music at the the Liceu Conservatory and later moved to Switzerland where she made her operatic debut singing Mimi in Puccini’s La Boheme. She had great international success performing bel canto roles, and for her first international success she received a 25 minute standing ovation after stepping in for Marilyn Horne to sing Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at New York's Carnegie Hall. She performed numerous roles at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as La Scala in Milan, and countless more.
Here she is singing Caro nome from Rigoletto (Verdi). I encourage everyone to pay close attention to the trill at the end of the aria that she magnificently holds for 14 seconds.
There are of course many famous soprano arias I could list here, but here’s a taste of her best! These are all tear-jerkers, fair warning.
Vissi d’arte from Tosca (Puccini)Casta diva... Ah bello a me ritorna from Norma (Bellini)
And a party scene to liven things up, though I still cry because it’s so amazing...
Ah Fors’è Lui... Sempre Libera from La Traviata (Verdi) — side note, I will be performing in the chorus with Pacific Opera Victoria in February 2019 for their production of La Traviata! Info can be found here.
Of course on top of all her success in the opera world, Caballé also brought light to opera in the popular music genre by collaborating with the mega-star Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. The hit single Barcelona (1987), was featured in the 1992 Summer Olympics that were held in Barcelona, Spain. Freddie had been a great fan of opera, particularly Montserrat Caballé, so when she was asked to do the Olympic song she knew exactly who to collaborate with. They ended up doing a Barcelona album, though the single was the greatest hit becoming even more popular after the death of Freddie in 1991. Her incredible vocal technique kept him in awe, and you can hear her abilities well in this song, contrasted with Freddie’s vocal intensity.
Montserrat Caballé was without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest singers of all time. She will be dearly missed, and forever remembered. So now I leave you with this beautiful recording of one of my favourite duets with Montserrat Caballé and Placido Domingo. Here is O soave fanciulla from La Boheme.
See you next month for another Singer Sunday!