Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018)

Montserrat Caballé in December 1992 Photograph: Geoff Wilkinson/REX/Shutterstock

In 1980 Renata Tebaldi was asked by Lanfranco Rasponi what she thought of the state of singing. Her answer was unequivocal: there is just one prima donna left Montserrat Caballé. And in the same year Magda Olivero, the last of the hell-for-leather verismo sopranos and no mean diva herself, opined that ‘we singers should get down on our knees and thank God for a voice like Caballé’s’. These words prefigure a leitmotif that runs throughout Rasponi’s book (The Last Prima Donnas; Alfred A Knopf: 1975) in which he interviews many of the great divas of the recording era: no matter how lamentable these monstres sacres believe the state of singing has become since they themselves retired from the stage, Caballé is usually cited as an exception to the general decline. So just how special is she?

To start with, her versatility: no diva in memory has sung such an all-encompassing amount of the soprano repertory, progressing through virtually the entire range of Italian light lyric, lirico-spinto and dramatic roles, including all the pinnacles of the bel canto, Verdi and verismo repertories, whilst simultaneously being a remarkable interpreter of Salome, Sieglinde and Isolde. 

….  In 1970 she became well acquainted with Maria Callas, who was by then living in semi-seclusion in Paris. Although they were temperamentally poles apart, at a musical level the two women connected. Certainly Callas seems to have thought so: just days before her death in 1977 she gave her last interview to Philippe Caloni and, when asked if she considered she had any successors, stated ‘Only Caballé’. One wonders what the Greek diva specifically had in mind. By that time she had seen Caballé triumph in the role of Norma and had even gone so far as to send the Spanish soprano the earrings she had been given by Visconti on the occasion of her first La Scala Normas in the 1950s. Evidently she believed the torch was being passed on. 

[excerpted from Reputations: Montserrat Caballe” by Robert Pullen and Stephen J Taylor at Gramophone]


Operas Featured on SiriusXM This Week

López-Cobos; Caballé, Carreras, Cossotto, Quilico
ARIADNE AUF NAXOS Strauss 3/20/1976
Levine; Caballé, Remedios, Welting, Troyanos, Dooley, Titus

Levine; Caballé, Gedda, Milnes, Díaz

LUISA MILLER Verdi 2/17/1968
Schippers; Caballé, Tucker, Milnes, Tozzi, Flagello, Pearl

NORMA Bellini 2/17/1973
Cillario; Caballé, Cossotto, Cossutta, Tozzi

OTELLO Verdi 3/11/1967
Mehta; Caballé, McCracken, Gobbi, Lorenzi

Dmitri Hvorostovsky


It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dmitri Hvorostovsky – beloved operatic baritone, husband, father, son, and friend – at age 55. After a two and a half year battle with brain cancer, he died peacefully at 3:20am GMT on Wednesday, November 22 surrounded by his family at a hospice facility near their home in London, UK.  He is survived by his wife, Florence Hvorostovsky, and their two children, Maxim (14) and Nina (10); his twin children, Alexandra and Daniel (21), from a previous marriage; and his parents, Alexander and Lyudmila.

Having retired from the opera stage at the end of 2016 due to complications from the tumor, Hvorostovsky made his final public appearance in a “Dmitri and Friends” concert at Austria’s Grafenegg Festival in June; in September, he was awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland of the IV degree, one of the highest non-military honors in his native Russia, for his great contribution to Russian art and culture.

–  from the singerś website


 MET Opera Tribute with video clips

 MET Opera Press Release

NY Times Obit


Moscow Ceremony of Last Respects Planned (Tass)

The Guardian Obit

The Times (UK) Obit

Washington Post Obit


Zachary Woolfe: Best of Hvorostovsky

Opera News

The New Yorker ‘Out of Siberia