You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Montserrat Caballe, ‘Barcelona’ Spanish Soprano, Dies at 85

MADRID — Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, immortalized beyond the opera world by singing “Barcelona” with Freddie Mercury, died Saturday at the age of 85. She was admitted to Barcelona’s St. Pau Hospital in September with a gallbladder problem, having suffered a stroke in 2012.

Made in 1987 and intended to be sung at the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games, a plan frustrated by Mercury’s death a year before, “Barcelona” was a rare incursion into pop music by Caballé, and a showcase for the extraordinary power and beauty of her voice. But it has obscured, at least for a broader public, a career which established her as one of the opera greats of the 20th century.

She was born on April 13, 1933, in the working-class district of Gràcia in Barcelona. Caballé’s early career was a triumph of large talent over difficult circumstance. Taught music by her mother, she won a scholarship at the age of 11 to the Conservatorio Superior de Música del Liceo. She fainted during her graduation exam, debuted at the Liceo in 1962 with Richard Strauss’ “Arabella,” and stepped in to substitute for Marilyn Horne in Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucrecia Borgia” at Carnegie Hall in 1965. Her performance confirmed her virtually overnight as one of the world’s great sopranos, a combination of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, The New York Times announced.

Caballé’s achievement was not just to hit that pinnacle but stay at the top of the opera world for decades to come. She won special acclaim for her performances in Verdi and bel canto operas by playing such roles as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” or Elisabetta of Valois in his “Don Carlo.”

Those performances were both in the 1960s. The fact that by 1987, when she recorded “Barcelona,” she was no longer considered to be at the absolute height of her powers, gives an idea of the extraordinary talent she unleashed on the opera world.

Caballé is survived by a son and daughter. The latter, Montserrat Martí, also an operatic soprano, accompanied Caballé in her final public performance in 2014.

More Music

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • BTS' ‘Burn the Stage’ Claims Biggest

    BTS' 'Burn the Stage' Movie Claims Biggest-Ever Event Cinema Box Office Haul

    BTS concert movie has now garnered the biggest-ever box office haul for an event cinema release. “Burn the Stage: The Movie” has raked in $18.5 million around the world, distributor Trafalgar Releasing told Variety. The film follows Korean boy-band sensations BTS on their Wings tour, which was seen by more than 500,000 fans. The movie [...]

  • Capitol Music Group Names Amber Grimes

    Capitol Music Group Names Amber Grimes Senior VP of Global Creative

    Amber Grimes has been named to the newly-created position of Senior Vice President of Global Creative for Capitol Music Group, it was announced today by Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett, to whom Grimes will report. According to the announcement, in her new position, Grimes will be integrally involved in formulating and executing the company’s global [...]

  • Katy Perry Joins 'Final Fantasy Brave

    Katy Perry Joins 'Final Fantasy Brave Exvius' as Playable Character

    Pop star Katy Perry is going to appear in the mobile role-playing game “Final Fantasy Brave Exvius” starting on Wednesday, Dec. 12, publisher Square Enix announced on Sunday. Perry has created an all-new song for the game called “Immortal Flame.” She’s also lending her likeness to several playable characters. People can grab the first one, [...]

  • Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Industry Execs

    Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Industry Execs Sign Anti-Brexit Letter

    Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran manager Stuart Camp and Grammy/Emmy award-winning film composer David Arnold and several leading UK music industry bodies are among the signees of a letter drafted by the new organization Music4EU, stating that Brexit “represents a significant threat to the UK’s music industry” and [...]

  • Firesign Theatre David Ossman Peter Bergman

    Phil Proctor Recalls Firesign Flared From Sunset Strip Riots

    When the Firesign Theatre’s first comedy album, “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,” was released in 1968, Rolling Stone rated the Los Angeles-based sketch comedy foursome as “the funniest team in America today.” With two of the team’s principals, Peter Bergman and Phil Austin, deceased, the creative mantle of the Grammy-nominated group’s freewheeling [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content