Spanish opera legend Caballe dead at age 85
BARCELONA, Spain — Montserrat Caballe, a Spanish opera singer renowned for her bel canto technique and her interpretations of the roles of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, has died. She was 85.
Caballe died early Saturday at Hospital San Pau in Barcelona, hospital spokesman Abraham del Moral told The Associated
Press. Caballe’s family requested the cause of death not be released, del Moral said, adding that she had been in the hospital since September.
Spanish media said that Caballe entered the hospital last month because of a gall bladder problem.
Condolences poured in from the world of opera and Spain’s highest authorities.
King Felipe VI tweeted that Caballe was “the great lady of opera, legend of universal culture, the best of the best” and that “her personality and unequaled voice will accompany us forever.” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said a “a great ambassador of our country has died.”
For tenor Jose Carreras, opera lost its “best soprano” with the passing of Caballe.
“Of all the sopranos that I have heard live, I have never heard anyone like Montserrat,” Carreras told Catalunya Radio.
Carreras praised her “versatility,” saying “she could do everything from the purest bel canto all the way to Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde.’ ”
Barcelona’s Liceo opera house, where Caballe performed over 200 times, and Venice’s Teatro La Fenice also published tweets lamenting her loss. Madrid’s Teatro Real said it would dedicate Saturday’s performance of “Faust” to the memory of Caballe, lauding the “singular beauty of her voice” and her prodigious technique.
London’s Royal Opera company said it was “saddened to hear ” of Caballe’s death and that she “sang with us on a number of occasions between 1972 and 1992 and inspired millions over the course of her career with her stunning voice.”
Born into a working class family in Barcelona, Caballe unveiled her musical talents early on, singing Bach cantatas at the age of 7.
In her almost unlimited repertoire, she starred in 90 opera roles with nearly 4,000 stage performances. Opera singer Maria Callas is once said to have answered “Only Caballe …” when asked once who she considered a worthy successor.