Life and Career of Soprano Montserrat Caballe

Opera Singer Montserrat Caballe
Sygma via Getty Images / Getty Images

Montserrat is best known for her roles in Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti operas. Her superb voice, breath control, exquisite pianissimos, and infamous technique overshadow her acting and dramatic abilities.


April 12, 1933 in Barcelona, Spain

Caballe Beginnings

Montserrat began her studies at a prominent school and college of music, Conservatorio del Liceo, in Barcelona with Eugenia Kenny and later studied with Napoleone Annovazzi and Conchita Badía. In 1956, Montserrat made her operatic debut in Basel, Switzerland, singing Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème. Her career-defining breakthrough came in 1965 when she substituted for Marilyn Horne in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at New York's Carnegie Hall.

At the Height of Caballe's Career

Since her performance in 1965, in Carnegie Hall, Montserrat quickly became one of the world's leading bel canto sopranos. Montserrat debuted at opera houses and concert halls all over the world, singing roles from Bellini to Verdi and Donizetti to Wagner. At the height of her career in 1974, Montserrat performed Aida, Vespri, Parisina d'Este, 3 Norma's in one week in Mosco, Adriana Lecouvreur, another Norma (her favorite performance) in Orange, and recorded several albums.

The Age of Retirement

Montserrat Caballe has never officially retired. At the age of 73, you can still find her on stage, albeit in far fewer performances, mostly in concert halls in Germany, singing recitals alone and with her daughter Montserrat Marti. Apart from opera, Caballe serves as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She also created a foundation for the underprivileged children in Barcelona. Montserrat gives annual concerts and donates the proceeds to charities and foundations she supports.

Montserrat Caballe Quotes

  • "I am not now nor have I ever been a diva... I am only Montserrat!"
  • "Drama if I sing, drama if I don't sing. What do you do?"
  • "People talk about Callas's Norma, Caballé's Mimí, but what is important is Bellini's Norma and Puccini's Mimí."
  • "I have sung many things with Luciano, and even more with José. But with Plácido I sang everything."