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Montserrat Caballé i Folch

Soprano and opera singer (Barcelona, 12th April 1933–6th October 2018)

Her name is known the world over and not for nothing is she considered one of the finest sopranos of the second half of the 20th century. She was renowned for her superb technique and outstanding performances of Italian bel canto opera.

At Christmas 1940, at the age of just 7, Montserrat performed an excerpt for her family from the opera Madame Butterfly that she had heard sung live so many times at the Liceu opera house. Amazed at her performing skills, they enrolled her at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu, in 1941, where she began studying music theory, piano and singing.

She made her professional debut in January 1955 with a public recital at the Palau Güell. She then embarked on a career that would take her to theatres across Spain as well as to Basel, Vienna and Bremen. Her first international success came when she had to stand in for the singer playing Lucrezia Borgia at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1965. It was a resounding success that took her on an artistic journey to the world’s leading opera houses.

Montserrat Caballé had an impressive career: she sang more than 80 operatic roles and also performed Spanish folk songs. She was the first woman to ask to be admitted to the private members’ club, the Cercle del Liceu, in 2000. She was also appoint-ed as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

Her career wasn’t just confined to opera. She recorded a version in Catalan of Phil Collin’s song “You’ll be in my heart” with her daughter Montserrat Martí for the Catalan television telethon and thrilled the entire world when she sang “Barcelona” with the peerless Freddie Mercury, which became the signature song for the 1992 Olympic Games.

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