On Tuesday, 89-year-old Spanish opera soprano Montserrat Caballe, better known as “La Superba,” was born.
She was well-known for her unusual bel canto vocal approach, as well as for bringing opera to the mainstream charts by duetting with Queen’s Freddie Mercury.
Spain’s King Felipe VI called her “the great lady of opera, the legend of universal culture, the best of the best”.
In her honor, Google changed its logo in six countries
Here is Montserrat Caballe Story
On April 12, 1933, Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepcion Caballe was born in Barcelona.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Spanish Civil War, her formerly middle-class family struggled financially.
“Despite the civil war and the tough postwar period, when you never knew where the next crust of food would come from,” Caballe later told Serafin Garcia Ibanez in the UNESCO Courier.
They were also fans of classical music. Carles Caballe I Borras and his wife, Anna Folch, would frequently listen to their opera collection in front of young Caballe, who possessed considerable musical skill.
Caballe’s parents were able to enroll her in the Conservatorio del Liceo when she was 13 years old.
Eugenia Kemeny, who taught students breath training, was her instructor. The opera singer later stated that she was able to have a long career without her vocal quality deteriorating as a result of this training.
Caballe also studied under the conservatory’s musical director, Napoleone Annovazzi, and later delved into Spanish song literature.
She graduated aged 20 and started auditioning for opera productions in Italy.
Cabello faced many health challenges throughout her career, including a benign brain tumor, a heart attack, and phlebitis. Those conditions led to her canceling her performances several times.
“I cancel when I am sick,” she told The Chicago Tribune in 1995. “I have had seven major surgeries in my life. I have had tumors. I have had two children with caesareans; you don’t just get up and sing the day after one of those. I was in an accident in 1969 in New York that required surgery and took four months for me to recover. I don’t cancel because of temperament.”
In 2015, she was convicted of tax fraud and she faced a suspended sentence of six months, and a fine of 250,000 euros ($278,000) for having claimed a residence in Andorra.
She died in Barcelona at the age of 85.
“A great ambassador of our country dies, an opera soprano recognised internationally,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at the time. “Her voice and her kindness will always remain with us.”
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