Another historic concert this week. The New York Philharmonic debut of legendary Spanish Soprano Montserrat Cabellé, who joins Zubin Mehta in a performance of Richard Strauss – Four Last Songs and the final scene from Salome.
The concert, which was a celebration of the 150th birthday of Franz Schubert is missing the first two pieces; Overture and Incidental Music to “Rosamunde”, but begins with Four Last Songs and is complete from that point on. It was recorded on October 5, 1978.
Montserrat Caballé has sung a wide variety of roles, but she is best known as an exponent of the works of Verdi and of the bel canto repertoire, notably the works of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She came to the attention of a much wider audience when she recorded at the request of the IOC in 1987 “Barcelona”, a duet with Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the British rock band Queen. The song was inspired by Caballé´s home city and later used as one of the two official theme songs for the 1992 Olympic Games.
In 1974, Caballé sang in a number of performances: Aida at Liceu in January, I vespri siciliani at the Metropolitan Opera in March, Parisina d’Este at Carnegie Hall in March, three Normas in one week at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, with Adriana Lecouvreur at La Scala in April, Norma in Orange in July (her top single performance, filmed in video by Pierre Jourdain), the recording of Aida under Riccardo Muti in July, and the Duets recording with Giuseppe Di Stefano in August. In September 1974, she underwent major surgery to remove a large benign mass from her abdomen. She recovered and was performing again on stage by early 1975. In 1976 Caballé appeared at the Met once again as Norma, sang her first Aida in that house opposite Robert Nagy as Radamès and Marilyn Horne as Amneris, portrayed the title role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and sang Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème opposite Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo.
In 1977 Caballé made her debut with the San Francisco Opera in the title role of Puccini’s Turandot. She returned to that house ten more times over the next decade in such roles as Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani and the title parts in Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, Rossini’s Semiramide, and Puccini’s Tosca among others.
A historic concert by a widely admired and popular Operatic Soprano. Certainly constitutes as qualifying for a Wednesday Anti-Road Rage concert.