Favourite Recordings

Studio / Live / Compilations / Seconda Donna / Xmas


studio recording compilations, various dates, released in 1995. Various artists and conductors. (EMI 7243 5 65530 2 6, 3 CD set with liner notes, $35).

A CD compilation of various arias, duets and scenes from several operas. Several tracks contain duets with Montserrat's tenor husband, Bernabe Marti: a great souvenir of one of the opera world's lasting romantic partnership (maybe second only to their recording of Madama Butterfly, the opera with which they started their operatic, and subsequently, married life). Some of these have been released previously, like the third volume of the set; some released on CD for the first time. A very good sampling of several Caballe roles from bel canto to verismo operas – from Bellini's Il Pirata to Giordano's Andrea Chenier and everything in between, except for Mozart, which Caballe sang in the early years of her career. A great introduction to the art of Caballe if you don't feel like listening to whole operas.


recordings from 1966-1991, released in 1991. (RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-61044-2, 2 CD set, $30).

A mix of opera arias and Spanish songs. While the opera arias are compiled from her previous studio recordings from the mid-60's to early 70's, the first volume contains relatively newer recordings, from late 1991.

Detractors may say that the voice started losing its bloom earlier on, but listening to these 1991 recordings, one is inclined to dismiss such claims. There is a majestic rendering of the Spanish "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor", with lush orchestration and full-bodied singing from Montserrat. "Tranquillo ei posa...com'e bello" from Lucrezia Borgia (Sept. '91) is just as beautiful, if not better than her singing from the earlier 60's recorded version of the complete opera. The Gianni Schicchi aria "O mio babbino caro", a favourite La Superba encore piece (given a 90's reading) is pure Caballe: beautiful and heartfelt. One caveat: the selection from the Lloyd-Webber musical Phantom of the Opera, "Wishing You Were Somehow Again" is probably ill-advised: one feels that Montserrat has not grasped the idiom of the musical theatre.

The recordings span almost three decades. One can't help but compare the recorded voice in 1965 to the one in 1991. I am most happy to report that the recordings from late 1991 show that even at the age of almost sixty, Montserrat was still capable of spinning out the most beautiful sounds: "Hijo de la Luna", the very last track in the set (recorded in December of '91) is every bit as beautiful as any Montserrat had recorded almost thirty years before.


Montserrat Caballe and Montserrat Marti. Recorded in March 1995 at the Auditorii de Cornella de Llobregat, Barcelona, David Gimenez, conducting. (RCA Victor Red Seal Label 74321 29646 2, $12).

Barely a year after her concert debut at the Hampton Court Palace Festival, Montserrat Marti recorded this debut album with her mother Montserrat Caballe.

A sentimental favourite of mine, for how often does one come across mother and daughter joined together by a common calling? As of this writing, Marti would prove to be a acclaimed recitalist, right now mainly in Europe, but with the release of the Easter recital concert (with Caballe) on DVD in North America, it will certainly be only a matter of time before she establishes her reputation here as well. Given her beautiful voice and her illustrious operatic lineage, the concert or operatic world seems hers for the taking. While a superb artist in her own right, one cannot help but look back to Caballe upon hearing Marti's solo introduction, "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Certainly the inspiration seem to be Caballe, and the opening bar of her "Caro Nome" from Verdi's Rigoletto harks back to a very young Caballe. But make no mistake, while the voice is fairly reminiscent of the older Montserrat, Marti possesses an artistry and beauty of tone uniquely her own, and five years later in the Easter concert video she emerges a superb singer, effortlessly spinning magic of her own.

Caballe's contributions in the recording are as one will expect from this great woman...after all these years, the sound is marvellously still a thing of beauty. In the second track "La Saeta", originally a poem set into music, we get something we don't usually hear: Caballe in a declamation.

The two voices blend in beautiful harmony, and the zarzuela piece "Bolero" from "Los Diamantes de la Corona (?) is a standout.

The liner note lists Carlos Caballe as producer, so this evidently is a family affair, and the care that went into the production seem to have paid off. It will probably remain over the years a good introduction to the art of both Caballe and Marti.