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The soprano Montserrat Caballé i Folch, who died last Saturday at age 85, was born on April 12th 1933 in Barcelona. Her love for music was transmitted by her mother and from the age of eight she attended operatic performances at the Liceo to later enter the Conservatory. Due to the economic problems of her middle-low class family, which was even evicted when she was a girl, she had to combine her studies with different jobs. In 1953 she performed for the first time at the Lyceum. In 1956, her patrons paid for Caballé's expenses to travel to Italy. She debuted as a professional singer in January 1962 and three years later she replaced the mezzo Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall in New York (United States). Her success was resounding and she received a long ovation that opened to her voice the theatres around the world.
This is the Montserrat Caballé that we all must remember today. The applauded and respected. The admired and loved Caballé. The talented and friendly. It is not the grotesque Caballé that must be remembered. With that grotesque I mean the tax evader of Montserrat Caballé; Montserrat Caballé, the fat couple of a young Freddy Mercury; or Montserrat Caballé, protagonist of a ridiculous Christmas TV advertisement.
Caballé was always about sixty years old. When she was young and when she was old. The jet-black hair and her bow –or whatever it is called– hid her ager. Post-war girl, emigrant to Germany and Switzerland. And fat. And fat surely because she wanted, because the hunger that she happened and that she did not want again. I was not a fan of Caballé but when I settle accounts with her, I go out to pay. Money does not come back to me. I do not write from fanaticism, but I do write from admiration for a big one. Caballé took Spain all over the world with her voice but the problem (one of them) of this country is that we do not admire our people. Surely it will be now, once dead, when she is idolised because there is neither a prophet in its land nor a bad death –what is still funny and thrilling at the same time. If you do not believe me, look at the social networks and you will see how they are now flooded with photos and videos of her, or read the newspaper these days and you will see parades of politicians attending her funeral because even if they do not defend it and it seems that to them, the rulers of this country, they do not give a damn, they all love culture.
Let us remember María de Montserrat Bibiana Concepción Caballé i Folch as the only one who disputed to the Greek soprano María Callas the title of "the greatest of the 20th century".
Caballé was a great soprano but she was also a prodigy of music, to whom some errors and bad decisions still blurred while she was endowed with a soft, lively and energetic voice. Caballé has a position insured in the Olympus of the opera.
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