“All my life I have wanted to be a great artist. I am not one. I am a singer with a beautiful voice. But I have always done my best, wherever I have found myself, to serve my country, my career, and my music, in order to feel proud and walk through life ‘clean’… With all the operations, all the difficulties, the many enemies, but also with millions of friends. And the greatest friend is the music.”
– Montserrat Caballé, soprano
Great Interpreters: Montserrat Caballé
Broadcast on Fine Music Radio on 12 April 2013.
In her last press interview, mere days before her death, Maria Callas was asked by Philippe Caloni whether, in her estimation, she had any real successors. She responded by stating unequivocally: “only Montserrat Caballé.” In 1980, Renata Tebaldi, was asked what she thought of the state of singing around the world. Her answer was simple: there is just one prima donna left – Montserrat Caballé. That same year, Magda Olivero, one of the last great verismo sopranos, was quoted as saying: “we singers should get down on our knees and thank God for a voice like Caballé’s.”
All three divas were right: Montserrat Caballé, or La Superba as she has come to be known, is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest singers in the history of opera. According to biographers Robert Pullen and Stephen Jay Taylor, her greatness as an artist has primarily been founded on her vocal qualities: one of the most beautiful and versatile voices in recorded history allied to a virtually flawless technique. In addition, few other singers in the annals of opera can claim such an all-encompassing repertoire, which includes virtually the entire range of Italian light lyric, lirico-spinto and dramatic roles, a substantial amount of bel canto, Verdi, verismo and French repertoire, whilst simultaneously being a noted and remarkable interpreter of Wagner and Strauss.
In this podcast, broadcast on the occasion of Caballé’s 80th birthday, I take a closer look at the career and artistry of this remarkable singer, who will be listed in the annals of operatic history as the possessor of perhaps the most beautiful voice of her age.
Podcast Track List
9) “Mira, o Norma… Sì, fino all’ore estreme” from Act II of Norma (Bellini)
Dame Joan Sutherland (Norma)
Montserrat Caballé (Adalgisa)
Conductor: Richard Bonynge
Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera