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Robert Benson, January 2011

Antonio Farre’s film about the life and career of Montserrat Caballé is a tribute to the great Spanish soprano. She is seen narrating various points in her illustrious career and appears to be a gentle, kind and very hard-working artist. Many of her colleagues, including Claudio Abbado, José Carreras and Plácido Domingo, speak affectionately of her and there are many (but not enough) excerpts from live performances that show the great Diva in peak form. Caballé and Maria Callas were friends (how jealous the latter must have been of Caballé’s vocal security!). She also had a great sense of humor as evidenced by her collaboration with British rock star Freddie Mercury in 1991—very far removed from Bellini and Donizetti! The title track, Barcelona, was the was the official hymn of the 1992 Summer Olympics held in that city. This DVD is a superb memento of one of the major sopranos of the century. This was issued before on the same label and mentioned on this site in 2005. Apparently that DVD has been discontinued.

Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, December 2010

This disc is a reissue of a 2003 documentary about Montserrat Caballé. The vocally agile and colorful Spanish soprano, now in her late 70s, has been thought of as a successor to Maria Callas and was regarded as the world’s most capable Verdi and Donizetti soprano during her peak years in the mid-1970s. Caballé had an impoverished upbringing, and of her twelve years of study at the Barcelona Conservatory (of which she takes us on a personal tour), ten were funded entirely by an arts-patronizing Barcelonan family. The film includes loads of historical footage, including video of a 1966 concert performance of an Il Pirata aria at Salle Pleyel, a later video of her performance in Adriana Lecouvreur, promotional still shots from her earlier appearances, and black and white clips of the bustling streets of Barcelona.

The film is not without its questionable editorial decisions; at one point a caption states that the Il Pirata performance was Caballé’s “first known life audio-visual recording.” Some of the video is grainy, and generally the transitions between the many and varied clips of the Barcelona skyline are excessive in number and spastic in execution. Brief interviews with colleagues such as Claudio Abbado, Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, and Renée Fleming are interspersed throughout the film. Interviews with Marilyn Horne—whom Caballé once replaced in a New York performance of Lucrezia Borgia that won her rapid acclaim—are more comprehensive. This documentary is extraordinarily rich in video footage and still images of Caballé’s stage career and her private life, and the detailed coverage of Cabellé’s life ventures will surely please her fans.

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1:50:07 PM, 4 October 2015
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