Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé (Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i Folch) was born on 12 April 1933 in Barcelona, where she studied at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. She began her career singing with Basel Opera (1957-9), singing Mozart and Strauss, and then Bremen Opera (1959-62). Returning to Barcelona, she sang several times at the Liceu, and also toured Mexico in 1963.
Her international reputation was established almost instantly after she replaced Marilyn Horne in a semi-staged Lucrezia Borgia at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1965. She was given a twenty-five-minute standing ovation, and became famous throughout the opera world. During the remainder of 1965 alone, she sang Marie Thérèse in Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne, returned to Carnegie Hall for Roberto Devereux (Queen Elizabeth I) and appeared at New York Metropolitan Opera as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust.
She became known beyond the classical music world in 1982, when she was asked by the International Olympic Committee to record the song Barcelona with Freddy Mercury for the Barcelona Olympics, and again more recently, in 2015, when she was prosecuted by the Spanish government for tax evasion/fraud, avoiding prison by paying a large fine.
Caballé died from a gallbladder infection at the Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona on 6 October 2018, aged eighty-five.
A selection of M&V articles about Montserrat Caballé
Ensemble. Great Vitality - Verdi's 'Don Carlo', heard by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Young Purity - A Covent Garden 'Salome' revival, reviewed by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. Magical eloquence - The first night of Palm Beach Opera's revival of Bellini's 'Norma' provides a night to remember for Lawrence Budmen