Caballe: Favourite Recordings-Live

Favourite Recordings

Studio / Live / Compilations / Seconda Donna / Xmas


The following are some of Caballe's known operatic performances recorded "live". Please note that some of these were originally pirated recordings and therefore may not always be of optimum sound quality.


NORMA

live performance from Orange, 1974. Jon Vickers as Pollione, Josephine Veasey as Adalgisa and Giuseppe Patane conducting. See also "Caballe on Video" section.

One of my favourite finds , this is one of Caballe's best performances of one of her greatest roles. The recording tends to be on the tinny side, but the inclusion of audience applause adds a lot to the experience...the next best thing to being there! This recording actually reinforced my desire to start this website: for me Caballe sang this Norma as no one had before or since. ..the most ethereal "Casta Diva" I have ever had the pleasure of hearing !
(N.B. Many thanks to Mr. Luis Angel Catoni, who e-mailed to provide the correct venue of this performance, which I had erroneously listed as Turin.)

Caballe, one of the greatest Normas of her day, subsequently recorded the secodary role of Adalgisa with another great Norma, her friend Joan Sutherland.

IL TROVATORE

live performance from Florence at the Teatro Communale, November 12, 1968. Caballe is Leonora, Richard Tucker Manrico, Franca Mattiucci is Azucena, Thomas Schippers conducting.

One caveat with "historic live recordings" (as pirate record companies are calling these recordings, now that a lot of these companies have begun to gain legitimacy and are now widely releasing such recordings) is the poor sound quality and also the annoying, unexpected "extras" that inevitably seep into the recording... I remember a recording of Traviata where the microphone picked up the voice of the prompter louder than the heroine! But I digress... This is actually a very fine recording of Trovatore, live or otherwise. A wonderful performance from Montserrat, of course (okay so I'm biased!), then at the beginning of her ascent to the top...Her "D'amor sull'ali rosee" alone prompted cheers and bravi for over three minutes (3 minutes and 22 seconds to be precise...I counted!). If you wish to sample Montserrat's fabled floating pianissimi, this is one recording where you'll hear them.

MADAMA BUTTERFLY

live recording from Madrid, with the Chorus and Orchestra of Radiotelevision Espanol, June 12, 1968. Caballe is Butterfly, Bernabe Marti is Pinkerton, Manuel Ausensi is Sharpless and Carmen Rigai Suzuki. Gianfranco Rivoli conducting.

A must have for anyone who is familiar with and enjoys the romantic story of how Montserrat and Bernabe met. This recording comes about six years after their initial meeting, and is a good representation of the couples' years of singing together. The music of Act I is sung with great romance, of course, and the rest of the opera is sung with heartfelt emotions and dramatic intensity. The Caballe voice has filled out much around this time, so much so that at some intense moments one can discern a Turandot in the making. Nevertheless, this is a fine souvenir of one of Caballe's earlier lyric roles, and the pairing with the ringing tenor of husband Bernabe makes it a more memorable recording.

TURANDOT

live recording from San Francisco with the San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly, November 4, 1977. Caballe is the Princess Turandot, Luciano Pavarotti is Calaf, Leona Mitchell is Liu and Giorgio Tozzi as Timur.

Caballe and Pavarotti captured at their peaks, this is a wonderful souvenir of the performance at very little cost! Leona Mitchell sings a wonderful Liu reminiscent of a young Leontyne Price but with a brighter sound. One cannot help but make comparisons with the lead roles as the recording includes generous bonus tracks of a performance from Vienna, June 22, 1961 with Birgit Nilsson.

Caballe sings a sweeter and less ferocious Turandot than her studio recording done the same year for EMI with Jose Carreras. Her Turandot has a definitely softer touch than that of one of the great Turandots of her generation, Nilsson, who had a voice steelier than Caballe's. This is what for me makes Caballe's Turandot more believable, especially at the end of the opera when her ice-bound exterior finally melts and accepts the love of Calaf.

AIDA coverAIDA

live recording from Milan with the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala of Milan, Act 1 recorded January 2, 1976, Acts 2-4 recorded January 28, 1976. Conducted by Thomas Schippers. Caballe is Aida, Carlo Bergonzi is Radames, Grace Bumbry is Amneris, Piero Cappuccilli is Amonasro and Ruggero Raimondi is Ramfis.

This recording is actually marketed as a Bergonzi vehicle, judging from its photograph on the cover, and Bergonzi does make a heroic Radames.

The Aida of Caballe here is very close to the sound of her studio recorded Aida, which is to say that she is exceptionally good and in great form. However, the sound is generally flat compared to the lush sound of the 1974 recording, so some of the bloom of that beautiful Caballe voice is lacking in this live recording. As well, some of the passages are diminished in volume, I suppose as Caballe wanders farther away from the recording microphone.

DON CARLO

recorded from a live performance at the Arena di Verona on July 2, 1969. Ochestra and Chorus of Arena di Verona conducted by Eliahu Inbal. Caballe is Elisabetta, Placido Domingo sings the title role. Dimiter Petkov is Philip II, Fiorenza Cossotto is the Princess Eboli, Piero Cappuccilli is Rodrigo.

Caballe's performance of Elisabetta in the Arena di Verona was wildly acclaimed; her "Tu, che le vanita" in this recording elicited an ovation 2 minutes and 32 seconds long with repeated cries of bis from the ecstatic audience. She would subsequently record this in the studio a year later, again with Domingo to equally successful reception. On par with many of these pirated recordings, the sound quality may not be of the highest order, but it does give a clear testament of Caballe's wonderful singing of one of Verdi's heavier female roles.