Montserrat Caballe is a legend of the opera scene, which was also known to people far from the art world. "Senora soprano", "Excellent" - so called her fans around the world. Caballe made famous the charismatic bel canto, which disarmed even strict critics.
Biography: childhood and adolescence
Montserrat Caballe was born on April 12, 1933 in Barcelona. Her full name and surname sound like this - Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepcion Caballe and Folk. It is named after Mount Montserrat, which is considered sacred and rises in the Pyrenees, fifty kilometers from the Catalan capital, not far from the famous Benedictine monastery. It would seem that the name predetermined the fate of the girl. Caballe can be safely called a "mountain", a "lump" of the opera world.
Montserrat's childhood was largely unremarkable. She was born into a family with a very modest income. Her parents, ordinary workers, had nothing to do with opera or art. My father worked at a chemical plant, and my mother was a scrubber for wealthy people. Montserrat's singing talent began early on.
The family was constantly experiencing a lack of money, and the young Caballe had to earn extra money in order to pay for her studies at the Philharmonic Lyceum and take additional classes in Italian and French. The girl took on all kinds of work. At first, she worked part-time behind the counter, then mastered sewing and began to work at a weaving factory. At the same time, Montserrat managed to study well at the Lyceum and be one of the best students. She graduated with honors.
Since the family did not have extra money, Caballe was first taught solfeggio by her mother. She did it as best she could, but the music teacher insisted that Caballe study singing with professional teachers. Soon, thanks to the efforts of one wealthy family, the girl continued her studies at the conservatory at the local theater "Liceo". Then she was barely 11 years old.
Montserrat graduated from the Conservatory in 1954. Her baptism of fire on the opera stage was the performance of an aria in the creation of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme. In 1956, Caballe already shone at the Basel Theater. Soon she also appeared in the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini on the stage of the legendary La Scala in Milan.
Montserrat gained worldwide fame only in 1965, after performing at Carnegie Hall. She sang in front of the New York audience in place of the suddenly ill diva Marilyn Horne, the American opera prima. Caballe performed the aria of Lucrezia Borgia in the production of the same name by Gaetano Donizetti. The spoiled audience received a thunderous ovation from the singer. The most severe critics sang her praises, noting first of all her noble soprano, in which there was no fake anguish or violent affectation. “She sings as she breathes” - this expression applies to her to the fullest.
In the same year, another opera star, Maria Callas, retired. And Montserrat became number one, the new best soprano. Critics were quick to name her as Callas' successor. Caballe herself considered her to be her idol.
During her long singing career, Montserrat has shone on the stage of the most famous opera houses. In addition to Milan's La Scala, its bel canto sounded at the walls of Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, Grand Opera, and the Vienna State Opera.
She is one of those performers who was equally gorgeous in both the opera and pop genre. Among her creative partners are the best tenors of their time Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo. Montserrat helped José Carreras become “that Carreras” by singing a duet with him.
It seems that she adored music so much that opera was not enough for her. In 1988, the prima decided to record an album with the lead singer of the rock band Queen Freddie Mercury. It was named Barcelona.The title song was performed at the Summer Olympics, which was hosted in 1992 by Barcelona. The Games' anthem quickly became a worldwide hit.
Caballe was on friendly terms with opera singers from Russia. So, she talked with Elena Obraztsova and taught vocals to her daughter. Montserrat sang a duet with Nikolai Baskov during his operatic career. They performed the legendary Ave Maria and the part from The Phantom of the Opera.
Caballe considered Salome's aria in the opera of the same name by Richard Strauss to be her most successful performance. It was first performed in the late sixties. But even after half a century, it still made a stunning impression.
Montserrat practiced a special breathing system throughout her life and performed a number of exercises to strengthen the diaphragm. This allowed her to sing brilliantly even at 85 years old. Even extra pounds did not interfere with the performance. They never embarrassed her, unlike the same Maria Callas, who tortured herself with hunger strikes until she lost her voice. Caballe's weight grew rapidly not because of flaws in the diet, but after the accident. In it, she received a skull injury and she had a malfunction in the work of the receptors responsible for fat metabolism.
Montserrat took the stage until her death. In the last months of her life, the prima sang while sitting in a wheelchair.
On October 6, 2018, Caballe passed away. With her passing, the world of opera became an orphan.
Caballe was married to Bernabe Martí. The prima spouse was a famous tenor. Their wedding took place in 1964 in a church on Montserrat.
Two children were born in the marriage: a son, Bernabe, and a daughter, Montserrat. The latter followed in her parents' footsteps, becoming an opera diva. They often performed together. The son also chose the creative path, but did not become recognizable.