Caballé, Montserrat, celebrated Spanish soprano; b. Barcelona, April 12, 1933. She was a pupil of Eugenia Kemeny, Conchita Badia, and Napoleone Annovazzi at the Barcelona Conservatorio del Liceo; after her graduation in 1953, she made her operatic debut in Reus, near Barcelona, in La Serva padrona. She then sang in Basel (1956–59) and Bremen (1959–62), and also made guest appearances in Vienna as Salome and Donna Elvira (1958), Milan’s La Scala as a Flowermaiden in Parsifal (1960), where she sang major roles from 1969, and Mexico City as Massenet’s Manon (1962). She made a brilliant U.S. debut on April 20, 1965, when she substituted for Marilyn Home in a concert performance of Lucrezia Borgia at N.Y.’s Carnegie Hall. After appearing as the Marschallin and the Countess at the Glynde-bourne Festival (summer 1965), she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. on Dec. 22, 1965, as Gounod’s Marguerite. In subsequent years, she returned to the Metropolitan Opera regularly, eliciting extraordinary praise for such roles as Desdemona, Norma, Violetta, Liù, Mimi, Aida, Adriana Lecouvreur, and Tosca, among others. She also sang with various other opera companies, including debut appearances as Violetta at the Chicago Lyric Opera (1970) and London’s Covent Garden (1972). In addition, she toured extensively as a concert artist. Her performances of operas in concert allowed her to survey not only Wagner but roles seldom heard. On Sept. 24, 1989, she created the role of Queen Isabella in Balada’s Cristóbal Colón in Barcelona, where, in 1992, she also appeared at the opening gala ceremonies at the Olympic Games. The great beauty of Caballé’s voice was ably complemented by an extraordinary vocal technique, one equally suited for the opera house and concert hall. Few singers of her day could match her command of such a large repertory, which ranged from standard to contemporary opera, and from art songs to zarzuela. In 1964 she married the Spanish tenor Bernabé Martí (b. 1934).
R. Pullen and S. Taylor, M.C.: Casta diva (London, 1994).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire