- Category : Entertain-Music-Vocalist-Opera
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 1
Spanish opera singer, a little-known soprano who had been singing mostly in German houses for the prior ten years when she stepped into the American Opera Society's 1965 concert performance of Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia" at Carnegie Hall. Replacing the pregnant Marilyn Horne, she had a week to rehearse the new role, and emerged as the opera world's hottest new talent of the decade. Her triumph led to invitations to sing at all the major houses worldwide. She rapidly captured international attention and interest for herself as an artist in a wave of audience fascination that remains undiminished.
Caballe's life began with a miracle. Born with the umbilical cord around her neck, she was being strangled until her head was completely black. Her mother prayed to the Virgin at the monastery of Montserrat, and when the baby survived, she was given her name after the location of the "Black Virgin," so named because the wood of the statue is black with age. Her family suffered from the poverty of the era, but she managed to complete her studies in Barcelona, at one point aided by the sponsorship of a wealthy family who believed in her talent. She began in the Conservatory when she was 8 and remained there until she was 22, studying not only voice but piano, composition, harmony and theory. She had been raised with music from birth; her family all loved music and she went to her first opera at four.
After winning First Prize in a vocal competition at 20, Caballe was rejected at her first audition in Rome. She was so crushed that she spent two weeks in bed. Eventually she landed a contract with the State Opera of Basel, Switzerland, in 1955, followed by work at houses in Bremen, Dusseldorf, Munich and Vienna. Soon her engagements were throughout Europe and to Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Her greatest triumph continued to be in the realm of bel canto.
Her first "Norma" was in 1970 in Barcelona, at the insistence of Joan Sutherland. She played the role in the Met three years later.
In a career of three decades, Caballe spent the last two at the pinnacle of her profession. Her vocal power has not lessened and she remains celebrated for the highly disciplined coloratura scalework and ethereal pianissimo phrases that first earned her fame. Her weight has been a problem as she suffered a high-blood-pressure attack, nor is her acting ability exceptional.
She met her husband, tenor Bernabe Marti, when the two were singing in a Barcelona production of "Madame Butterfly" and they married in 1964. They have two children, a son Bernabé and a daughter Montserrat (1972), and live in a 16th century villa outside Barcelona. The daughter became a soprano singer later.
Caballe says of herself, "I am not a complicated person. I'm religious and love spending all my leisure time with my family." Yet she loves to sing, and spends much of her life in the sophisticated and glamorous world of the stage. "I knew quite early that to have a full life, it was necessary to do everything. I had to be a good mother and wife, and also continue my life in opera. Happiness comes from sharing life. I love singing all over the globe, but when I am through with the opera house, I need my family around me."
She had a hit single in 1988, "Barcelona", a duet with Freddie Mercury, which became the anthem for the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Her 1997 album, "Friends For Life", included duets with singers as Bruce Dickinson, Johnny Hallyday, Johnny Logan, Gino Vannelli, and Helmut Lotti.