Caballe on Video

Complete Operas / Concerts and Documentaries

Montserrat Caballe: The Woman, the Diva

This collection of arias from Caballe's repertoire of operatic and zarzuela roles are performed in costumes and filmed on location (except the cuts from a recital she gave in front of the cathedral in Barcelona). Available on DVD. Montserrat introduces each song, and often tells the audience how it relates to her personal and/or professional life. All throughout the video are references of her family life: the video begins with Montserrat at home (?) paying tribute to her husband, Bernabe Marti.

Highlights of the video include Cleopatra's aria "V'adoro, Pupille" from Handel's Gulio Cesare in a live performance of the opera. The staging is a bit over the top, but Montserrat sings the aria gloriously! At the beginning of her aria "Si, Mi Chiamano Mimi", Montserrat breaks into a fit of giggles brought on by an unexpected tribute from an admirer in the audience: a characteristic playful display that has endeared Caballe to her fans the world over even more.

Glyndebourne Gala

RM Associates, 1992, VHS & Laserdisc,112 minutes, $15. This video from the re-opening of the opera house in Glyndebourne is made more notable by the appearance of Montserrat singing Desdemona's "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" from the opening of Act 4 of Verdi's Otello. By this point Caballe had been singing professionally for almost forty years, yet her singing here is as fresh and exquisite as one might hear from a much younger singer, and she caps the "Ave Maria" with very delicate pianissimo. This is a memorable display of her formidable technique, which has made it possible for her to stay at the top of her profession after so many years.

The Barcelona EP

VHS video was originally offered through the Trancer Freddie Mercury site , for $25. New Trancer URL is now at

This 15 minute video features the music video "Barcelona", and two tracks from the album performed by Montserrat and Freddie at the gala concert to raise funds for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Curiously, the "live" performances never actually happened, as it was reported that Mercury at the last minute got cold feet and insisted on lip-synching the songs instead.

As it turned out, freed from concentrating on the singing aspect, Montserrat can be seen on the video completely relaxed and beaming, and even doing a very "un-diva like" impromptu dance. The mutual affection between Caballe and Mercury is very much in evidence: one wonders, had they been given another chance, what other beautiful music these two would have created.

This video is also available on a very elusive Japanese laserdisc issue (8" Laserdisc that includes the title track, The Golden Boy and How Can I Go On), and also on VideoCD format ("Barcelona" and "The Golden Boy" as singles on 5" discs). See here for a compilation Caballe / Mercury DVD.

Concerto di Pasqua

Trinidad Entertainment Corporation, 2000, DVD, 70 minutes, $25. This Easter Sunday concert, part of the Jubileaum Collection 2000AD was given in 1999 at the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. It is an absolute treat, and thrill to finally hear both Montserrats in a concert together. Caballe at age sixty-six has lost some, but not much of the artistry that had kept her at the top of her profession for almost four decades. This is collection of prayer arias and duets and includes composers from the baroque (Handel's Messiah) up to the modern day (Bernstein's "Salmo 131" from the Chichester Psalms). Individually mother and daughter sing wonderfully and gloriously. Montserrat Marti is introduced into the concert with a clear-voiced "Come Unto Him" from Handel's Messiah, and Caballe, even this late in the career gives us a beautiful "Ave Maria" from Verdi's Otello. Together they weave wonderful harmony in the duets, most notably in the Donizetti "Ave Maria". (A sidebar: In the first "ora pro nobis" passage, just before the high note on the word "ora", Caballe takes Marti's hand, as if to give the younger singer extra moral support to get her through the hurdle; throughout most of the concert this holding of hands will be a repeated gesture, showing the bond between mother and daughter).

If this concert is any indication, then Montserrat Marti is well on her way to becoming a major singer in her own right, as is seen to be her birthright. I can only wish to hear more from her, in person or through her recorded concerts and other performances. Her Spanish song, Alvarez's "Los Tres Amores" was limpid, beautiful and secure, and received a heartfelt ovation. At the end of Caballe's singing of Massenet's "La Vierge", the audience showed their admiration and love for this great diva with a roar of applause.

While I would hate to sound unhappy given how the wonderful concert was, it would have been wonderful to have heard Mascagni's "Regina Coeli" from Cavalleria Rusticana along with the "Ave Maria" sung together by Caballe and Marti. As is fitting given the venue, the penultimate piece was Verdi's "La Virgine degli Angeli", from La Forza del Destino.

It was a triumphant evening for both Montserrats!