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Montser­rat Ca­ballé Born 1933 So­prano

Lov­ingly known as ‘La Su­perba’ by her large le­gion of fans, Montser­rat Ca­ballé was one of the most revered singers of her gen­er­a­tion – a lead­ing fig­ure in the resur­gence of the bel canto style and a so­prano whose im­mac­u­late tech­nique and cap­ti­vat­ing stage pres­ence was en­joyed by au­di­ences across the globe. In 1992 she be­came fa­mil­iar to mil­lions of peo­ple when her pre­vi­ously recorded per­for­mance of the song ‘Barcelona’ with Fred­die Mer­cury was used as the sig­na­ture tune for the Cata­lan city’s Olympic Games.

Ca­ballé was her­self from Barcelona, where she stud­ied at the Con­ser­va­tori Liceu. Be­gin­ning her ca­reer with a se­ries of small roles, her break­through came when she played Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Gio­vanni at the Vi­enna State Opera in 1960. It was, though, a con­cert per­for­mance of Donizetti’s Lu­crezia Bor­gia at the Amer­i­can Opera So­ci­ety, tak­ing over the ti­tle role from an ail­ing Mar­i­lyn Horne, that set her on the path to op­er­atic su­per­star­dom – reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances La Scala, the Royal Opera House and the New York Met would fol­low. Bel canto roles of­ten pro­vided her with her great­est suc­cess both on stage and in the stu­dio – not least her record­ings of Bellini and Verdi arias in the 1970s – though she also ven­tured into the likes of Richard Strauss and Wag­ner. A for­mi­da­ble pres­ence who came to promi­nence in an age dom­i­nated by con­duc­tors, Ca­ballé al­ways de­nied her rep­u­ta­tion as a fierce prima donna, in­sist­ing: ‘I am not now nor have I ever been a diva… I am only Montser­rat!’.

He­len Clare Born 1916 Singer and pre­sen­ter

A favourite on tele­vi­sion and ra­dio dur­ing the Se­cond World War, He­len Clare was the singing star of pro­grammes such as Work­ers’ Play­time, Call­ing Gi­bral­tar and, above all, It’s All Yours, which she her­self pre­sented. Though born in Brad­ford, Eng­land, she moved with her fam­ily at a young age to Aus­tralia, where she be­came a child star – one of her ear­li­est per­for­mances saw her singing Gounod’s ‘The Jewel Song’ along­side Dame Nel­lie Melba. Her re­turn to the UK af­ter the Great De­pres­sion saw her con­tinue and de­velop her ca­reer on stage and on air. She con­tin­ued to broad­cast un­til the 1960s and work as a teacher into her nineties. John Tyrrell (born 1942) was the pre-em­i­nent ex­pert of his era on the life and mu­sic of Janá ek. His books on the com­poser in­cluded his au­thor­i­ta­tive bi­og­ra­phy, The Lonely Black­bird, pub­lished in 2006.

The Greek bari­tone Vasilis Gian­noulakos (born 1934) was a favourite of Vi­enna State Opera au­di­ences in the 1970s, but also a fa­mil­iar fig­ure on US opera stages, espe­cially in Wag­ner, Richard Strauss and Puc­cini.

Cata­lan hero­ine: Montser­rat Ca­ballé per­form­ing in 1974

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