Suggested Reading

The following books deal in full or in part with the life and/or career of Montserrat Caballe.

Montserrat Caballe: Casta Diva

by Robert Pullen & Stephen Taylor, Northeastern University Press,1995 (first published in the UK,1994) ISBN 1-55553-228-4, hardcover 464 pages, $35 US.

Written with the full cooperation of Montserrat (she provided a lot of photographs and personal reminiscences), this is the definitive biography of the diva currently available. A comprehensive critical discography is included, divided into categories by composers and lists both commercial and pirated recordings. A well written biography that reads as well the second (or third!) time as the first.

This book, along with a 1974 live Orange recording of Norma provided some of the inspiration for this site, and is a major source of information.

Prima Donna: A History

by Rupert Christiansen, Penguin Books, 1986 (original publishing in the UK, 1984), ISBN 0-14-008378-2, softcover, 367 pages, $7 US.

A book which examines the phenomenon of the prima donna, it actually starts with the precursor of the prima donna, the castrato, and charts its course all the way to the prime donne of the present day. The Caballe entry covers three pages under the heading "National Style". An outstanding book about female singers in a historical context.


by Ethan Mordden, Fireside Books, 1990 (original publishing, New York, 1984),ISBN 0-671-66800-5, softcover, 310 pages, $10 US.

A witty look at the soprano as diva: tempestuous, iron-willed , sometimes capricious but always magnificent. Where Prima Donna: A History takes a fairly academic path, Demented takes the lighthearted course: it gives you a glimpse of the traits that makes a prima donna a diva, and the struggles and sacrifices she makes to achieve opera's ultimate distinction. References to Montserrat throughout the book.


by Helen Matheopoulos, Gollancz Paperback, 1993 (first published in 1991), ISBN 0-575-055170, softcover, 333 pages, $15 US.

One of the few books about opera divas actually written by a woman, I find this very likeable and free of the patronizing tones that sometimes pervade books on the subject. Twenty-six of the finest sopranos and mezzos of the last twenty-five years are included: a concise introduction to their lives and careers; Montserrat's is very well represented. I think this is a very fine tribute to each and everyone of them.

Opera on Record

edited by Alan Blyth, Harper Colophon Books, 1979, ISBN 0-06-090910-2, softcover, 663 pages, $11.50 US cover price.

This old book is included in here because I have yet to find another up-to-date book that reviews operatic recordings in such exhaustive and entertaining details. About fifty standard repertoire operas are included, from Monteverdi to Verdi and much in between. Most of the recordings of each opera are listed (from the earliest existing recordings to about 1975) and reviewed, and a comprehensive complete opera recording listing is included at the end of each topic: for example, Aida listings from 1906-1973. Also listings and reviews of known recordings of individual arias are included.

The back cover boasts of a book review by Opera magazine writer Desmond Shawe-Taylor which reads: "Opera on Record is not just a compulsively readable book but an obsession, an addiction... It proves to be an inseparable companion... to discover what is said about one more new favourite set or favourite old 78... The book is... a marvel."

And indeed it is. I would not venture to purchase an older recording, especially the "historical" ones, without consulting this book. I found this in a second hand shop, and am not aware if it was ever republished or even updated, but I would encourage everyone to seek it out. What operatic history it contains! Montserrat's recordings before 1975 are very well documented.

TWO BOOKS FROM GERMANY (information supplied by Claudia Weber, Germany):


The German edition of "Montserrat Caballé - Casta Diva" ISBN 3-404-61348-1 - Bastei-Lübbe


by Dieter David Scholz - Parthas-Verlag ISBN 3-932529-60-X published in Germany 1999.

Contains interviews with:

Hildegard Behrens, Inge Borkh, Montserrat Caballé, Helga Dernesch, Brigitte Fassbaender, Mirella Freni, Edita Gruberova, Jane Henschel, Sena Jurinac, Vesselina Kasarova, Felicity Lott, Christa Ludwig, Martha Mödl, Birgit Nilsson, Magda Olivero, Leonie Rysanek, Anny Schlemm, Gabriele Schnaut, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Renata Scotto, Anja Silja, Elisabeth Söderström, Violeta Urmana, Julia Varady, Astrid Varnay.