Freddie Mercury worried Montserrat Caballé duet would be ‘disaster’ | Music | Entertainment
Freddie Mercury worried Montserrat Caballé duet would be ‘disaster’ | Music | Entertainment | Express.co.uk
Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona duet with Montserrat Caballé “wasn’t an easy process” and saw the Queen singer full of doubts.
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Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé perform ‘Barcelona’ in 1988
The late singer’s composer collaborator Mike Moran once said of him: “Very few people can sing like Freddie Mercury. He’s one of the most unique performers I’ve ever had the fortune to work with. Freddie’s an amazing vocalist and he’s got immense range. Got great control over his voice, great phrasing.” One occasion when Moran was particularly impressed with Freddie’s singing talent was when he collaborated with Montserrat Caballé on smash hit popera track Barcelona back in 1987.
The composer said in the Finding Freddie YouTube documentary series: “I don’t think Fred sung better at any other time in his life. Fred never tried to sing operatically, but Fred was a great performer. He could have done anything really I suppose. The power and the passion he put into it is the same as a tenor in an opera.” However, the amazing duet could have ended up as a “complete disaster”, with the Queen singer having experienced serious doubts that it would work out.
Freddie and Montserrat were originally connected after the Queen frontman revealed she was his favourite Spanish singer during an interview. So afterwards her people made contact wanting the pair to meet up.
Moran remembered: “Fred phoned up and said, ‘I’ve had a phone call from the Caballé organisation and they want me to meet Montserrat and so we’re going on Saturday to the Ritz in Barcelona.’ Fred… was excited for one thing because she was an absolute idol of his “But on the other hand, he said, ‘We might not get on, personally I don’t know what she’s like. ’ So we tried to lighten the atmosphere a bit in case it turns out to be a complete disaster. Of course, they got on very well.”
Freddie Mercury was terrified duet with Montserrat Caballé would be ‘complete disaster’ (Image: GETTY)
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The singers had dinner together at Freddie’s Garden Lodge home in Kensington and after the meal had some time around the piano together singing through various genres of music.
On the occasion, Moran said: “We didn’t need to lighten the atmosphere at all. hey were like old friends after about 10 minutes and that was it. It was received very well, everybody was very surprised. Nobody had any idea that anything like was happening at all.”
Following the meet-up, the opera singer asked if Freddie could write something they could perform together. So Queen frontman and Moran hit the studio and came up with Barcelona. Although, the composer revealed that their two very different singing voices and ranges proved to be quite the challenge.
READ MORE: Brian May’s praise for Adam Lambert ‘I swear no voice matches his’
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé also recorded The Golden Boy together (Image: GETTY)
Moran admitted: “It wasn’t an easy process.” Yet in the end, Barcelona was a great success and Freddie collaborated again with Montserrat the next year with the single The Golden Boy, alongside an entire album together.
Following Freddie’s death in 1991, the song reached No 2 in the UK charts and it featured at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The opera singer herself died in 2018 aged 85 and was hailed as “the best of the best” by King Felipe VI of Spain.
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Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona and the melody of the Spanish city
Barcelona, it was the first time that we met. Barcelona, how can I forget?
It’s the mix of the classic with the modern that gives Barcelona its flavour. The same way the operatic melodies of Montserrat Caballe combine with the stylised pop of Freddie Mercury’s voice in their song ‘Barcelona’.
I don’t know why I think about this song when I think of Barcelona now. It’s been weeks since I was there and I have only discovered the duet since then, as I did research into a city that I feel calling me back.
Perhaps the song is part of that: siren-like, it’s more like the city than it ever meant to be.
Montserrat Caballe, the opera singer and Barcelona local, asked Freddie Mercury to help her write an ode to the city in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games.
She was supposed to be the guide, the local expert with the guiding hand. Instead, it was the excited foreigner who takes control and directs the action.
Her warbling, so controlled and so perfect, contains the restrained pleasure of a Spaniard who knows how much joy there is in Barcelona.
His almost-shouting is like an excited child who has just discovered it for the first time.
“Such a beautiful horizon, like a jewel in the sun”, Mercury sings.
In Spanish, she acknowledges that the charms of the city will be revealed and all are welcome.
“Ring the bells”, her harmonious words can be translated. “Open your doors to the world.”
It works, though. His enthusiasm is complemented by her grace without either tempering the other. And it’s this consummation of the two which captures the city for which the song was recorded.
Barcelona’s new and old
Take Antoni Gaudi, for instance. He may have been born in the region but his flamboyant architecture was as foreign as any British singer.
It was embraced by Barcelona and by one of the most traditional organisations in the world – the Catholic Church.
This was not just the new and the old… this was modernism and tradition and a pairing that defines the city today.
The doors of Barcelona have well and truly been opened to the world. It is the fourth most-visited city in Europe and the sixteenth in the world.
The Olympics did their job and there is no need to ring the bells anymore.
As an example: the Port Vell, the waterfront harbour entertainment district, went from a rundown industrial area before the games to a magnet for more than 16 million visitors last year.
But the modern complex on the shores of Barcelona sits just metres from the historic quarters of the city, with their small winding alleys leading pedestrians in circles to squares built upon the houses of the holy cross.
On the steps of the King’s Square (Placa del Rei) it is said that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella welcomed back Christopher Columbus from his discovery of the New World.
Little did the citizens of Barcelona know how, 500 years later, people would be leaving this square to return home and regale others of their worldly discoveries.
Little did they know that the welcoming bosom of an opera singer would be used by a blogger as a metaphor for a classical European comfort unweathered by the New World which had just been found.
Returning to the song and to Freddie Mercury….
In one line he sings the sentiments of most who visit Barcelona. I know he speaks for me. “And if God willing, we will meet again someday.”
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of accommodation website HouseTrip but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe: the story of one friendship
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe – both famous musicians have already gone to another world, and at the same time remain forever in our hearts. The music of Caballe and Mercury is immortal and will delight
more than one generation of inhabitants of the planet Earth. When you hear both of these names side by side: Montserrat Caballe and Freddie Mercury, Barcelona immediately and invariably comes to mind: the city where they took place
acquaintance – and the city that gave the name to the famous composition that the rock star and opera diva performed live in Barcelona at 1988th.
The music, which Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe served earnestly, faithfully and to the last breath, once became the reason for their meeting, which grew into a true friendship that lasted until death.
Freddy in 1991 In this article, we will remember how it all happened. So music, Montserrat Caballe, Freddie Mercury and Barcelona…
It all started in 1983, when at the London Royal Opera House, Freddie Mercury heard Barcelona-born Montserrat Caballé sing in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Actually, for this show
Mercury went with a specific purpose: to hear from his idol Luciano Pavarotti.
However, when Caballe, known for her magnificent bel canto, appeared on the stage in the second act and sang, Mercury, in his own words, instantly turned cold with delight and all the while
Montserrat sang, sat motionless and breathless. He completely forgot about Pavarotti – the rock musician was so struck by the performance of Montserrat Caballe.
According to Peter Freestone, Mercury’s personal assistant, from that moment on, the only music that Mercury listened to, anywhere and everywhere, was the singing of Montserrat. “This is really
singer!” – the rocker could often exclaim with delight and respect, listening to Caballe sing.
Some time later, in an interview with Spanish television, the author of “Bohemian Rhapsody” said that Montserrat Caballe is his favorite performer, and his greatest dream is to sing with her someday
duet. The words of Mercury, by that time a world-famous star and an absolute figure No. 1 in the world of rock music, of course, immediately reached the ears of Montserrat Caballe.
In the end, largely thanks to the efforts of the singer’s administrator, her brother Carlos, they managed to arrange the very meeting that marked the beginning of a tender and strong friendship between the vociferous
a native of Barcelona and Freddie Mercury.
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe first met at Barcelona’s Ritz Hotel (now El Palace). At that time, preparations for the Olympics-92 were actively carried out in Barcelona, and Montserrat Caballe was
involved in organizing the musical arrangement of this grandiose sporting event, which was to change the fate of the city once and for all.
Montserrat’s brother Carlos insistently sought to arrange a meeting between the two musicians for this reason: he wanted Mercury and Montserrat to make a joint musical project for
the opening of the Olympics – as it, in the end, happened.
In March 1987, Mercury flew to Barcelona, and at the appointed hour Montserrat Caballe was waiting in the huge luxurious lobby of the Ritz Hotel. Caballe was a little late – but Montserrat was late since childhood,
everywhere and always, and it had to be taken for granted.
Mercury was noticeably nervous, but when Montserrat did appear, a warm and mutually respectful relationship was instantly established between them. Both seemed to know each other already.
a thousand years – so, in any case, both later described their first meeting.
Freddie showed her some demos of his new compositions, then sat down at the piano, which was right there in the hall, and began to improvise, trying to figure out what kind of music he might like.
her as the future anthem of the Olympics.
Montserrat could not fail to note how gifted Mercury is as a musician and how masterfully he owns the instrument. Even then, during their first meeting, the idea arose not only to prepare jointly
the anthem of the Barcelona Olympics, but also to record an album.
Their next meeting was not long in coming and took place already on Freddie’s territory, in his London house at Garden Lodge. Montserrat, in her own words, completely violated her own
the rule that “an opera singer should go to bed early” and sat at Mercury’s until the morning. For music, chatter and champagne, the hours flew by imperceptibly, and Barcelona caught on, only
when dawn broke through the windows.
Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury – Barcelona
Further events developed rapidly. Just a couple of months later, Montserrat Caballe and Freddie Mercury showed the composition “Barcelona” for the first time on the television program “Ibiza 92”. Recording
was made in the famous disco club Ku (currently Privelege ).
This recording perfectly shows how powerful “chemistry” exists between these two great performers. Mercury, known for his energetic performances at rock concerts, seems to be all
burns with passion for Monesrrat – an experience that is multiplied many times over by the divinely beautiful music and singing of “Barcelona”
Montserrat Caballe was one of the few to whom Freddie Mercury admitted that he had AIDS – which once again proves how close their relationship was. For this reason, I remember
afterwards Montserrat, everything that they did with Freddie together had a special meaning for both of them. The singer herself experienced a poignant, piercing feeling, knowing that Freddie would soon be gone, and
realizing that nothing can be changed in this situation.
On October 8, 1988, they were back on stage together. At the foot of the Montjuïc Hill, at the Magic (Singing) Fountain of Barcelona at the La Nit Festival, organized on the occasion of the transfer of the Olympic torch
Seoul Barcelona, Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe performed three songs included in their joint album: “How Can I Go On?”, “The Golden Boy”, “Barcelona”, included in their joint album
Barcelona, released a year earlier.
“Barcelona” was chosen as the anthem of the Barcelona Olympics-92. Montserrat and Freddie were supposed to perform this wonderful song at the Opening, but fate decreed otherwise. Freddie was dying. Kind of him up
unrecognizability changed, he refused to see anyone.
When in the 91st Montserrat was in London to record in a recording studio, he immediately called Freddie, as she always did – but the musician asked her not to come. Freddie didn’t want
upset a person dear to him by the terrible changes that the disease has made in him.
On November 24, 1991, Freddie Mercury died at his home in London from pneumonia, which his AIDS-infected body was unable to cope with. In the last minutes of his life, an aria sounded
D’Amor Sull’ali Rosee performed by Montserrat Caballe. The great Catalan singer made this recording especially for her friend.
Montserrat Caballe refused to perform “Barcelona” without Freddie Mercury at the Opening of the Olympiad-92 – and the song was recorded. Subsequently, she also never did this – never and with anyone.
“It’s impossible to replace Freddie with anyone!” – she stated with conviction, and it is difficult to disagree with her.
On October 6, 2018, Montserrat also left this world. But the story of their sincere and strong friendship is not forgotten – just as the music of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe, which we continue
P.S. As for the Ritz Hotel, the current El Palace GL Barcelona – it recently celebrated its centenary with grandeur and still remains one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in Barcelona. AND,
judging by the reviews of our tourists who stayed in it, the hotel enjoys its high reputation quite deservedly.
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Montserrat Caballe and Freddie Mercury. How the famous Barcelona was born. Spain in Russian
Dedicated to the memory of the great opera singer
World famous singer Montserrat Caballe passed away on October 6, 2018. Amazingly clear soprano, dramatic talent, famous bel canto technique, charm and strength – this is how she will be remembered by millions of her fans. Music lovers who are far from opera know Montserrat Caballe as the performer of the composition “Barcelona” in a duet with Freddie Mercury. How this unique duet was formed, read in our article.
In May 1983, Freddie Mercury saw Montserrat Caballe in London in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. The beauty and power of her voice struck the singer. He became a fan of the diva, followed her work and dreamed of working together, collected her CDs and came to a concert in New York, where she performed Wagner. When Freddie announced his desire to sing along with Montserrat, his friends and the Queen musicians considered it a crazy idea.
First meeting. Inspired by the Olympics
In the late 1980s, preparations were underway for Barcelona’s participation in the 1992 Olympics, and the city’s mayor offered to help the singer with musical arrangements. The Olympic Games are youthful in spirit and Montserrat wanted to do something modern that would appeal to young people. Brother Montserrat Carlos advised me to seek help from Freddie Mercury, who sincerely loved opera and the singer’s work. It only remained to understand whether the musician would like the idea of creating a joint work, because by that time Queen was already a world-famous group.
And so Freddie flies to Barcelona for an acquaintance. The meeting took place in March 1987 in the huge salon of the hotel where he was staying. There were three pianos and a remote control for recording music. Freddie asked Montserrat what style of music for the Barcelona anthem she would like to hear. Sitting at the piano, he began to improvise.
It was an outstanding event: the meeting of two musicians of the highest professionalism, getting an amazing experience and able to blur the boundaries between opera and rock music.
The arrival of Barcelona
Freddie sketched some tunes, and when Montserrat came to London to perform at Covent Garden, they listened to these compositions. One of the melodies that the singer liked became Barcelona. There were no words yet, but the music was so beautiful that Montserrat decided to present it to the mayor of Barcelona and then received permission to perform it as the official anthem of the Olympics.
Work on the album has begun. The first joint performance took place in May 1987 on the island of Ibiza in the famous Ku Club, where they were guests of honor and performed the song Barcelona. Freddie wrote the lyrical text of the anthem himself, dedicating the verses to his native city of Montserrat. The song talks about a beautiful romantic place where two loving hearts met. The song has become autobiographical for the musicians to a certain extent.
Work and friendship
Barcelona was released on October 10, 1987. The friendship of such different people in every sense has become a legend. While working in 1987-1988, the artists exchanged kisses. Once, when Montserrat, as usual, wanted to hug Freddie, he pulled away from her with a gesture, thus warning that he had been diagnosed with HIV. At that time, it was not yet known exactly how the infection was transmitted.
Montserrat cared about her friend’s feelings, respected him as a professional and a person, loved his music and his voice, which went so well with her voice. Freddie was not only a rock singer, but also an excellent musician, a very modest person. Once, at dinner at his house, Montserrat told me that she loved Chopin’s impromptu fantasy. Freddy immediately sat down at the piano and began to improvise on the theme of the work of the Polish composer. They spent this time until the morning.
Freddie’s last show
In October 1988, during the handing over of the Olympic flag to Barcelona at the La Nit festival, Freddie and Montserrat performed three new compositions. One of them, touching How Can I Go On? (“How can I continue to live?”) about the frailty of human existence turned out to be the last one he sang in front of the public. As he sang this song, parting tears glistened in his eyes. Freddie squeezed and kissed Montserrat’s outstretched hand. He probably felt that fate was taking him very far …
About a year before Freddie’s death, their last meeting took place.
And in 1991, Montserrat came to London to work in a recording studio and called Freddie. The disease progressed. “He didn’t feel well, but I really wanted to see him.” Freddie replied: “No, no. Don’t come, I don’t look very presentable right now.” Then, especially for him, Montserrat recorded the Phantom aria Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (“Oh, if you could be here again”) from The Phantom of the Opera. Hearing her magical voice over the studio speakers, Freddie said: “It was wonderful. This is how I wanted you to sing the aria. Will you send me a note?” This was their last conversation. At the end of the song, it pierces: “Help me say goodbye.”
After the departure of her unique duet partner, Montserrat refused to sing “Barcelona” at the opening of the Olympic Games, and the composition sounded on record. Montserrat never performed it again. “No one can replace Freddie,” she said in a firm voice filled with sadness from an irreparable loss.
At Freddie’s house, under glass, as a museum exhibit, her costume from Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, in which Montserrat sang in 1965 at Carnegie Hall in New York. This dress was returned to her after the death of a friend.
November 24, 1991 he died. Freddie died at his London home from pneumonia progressing against the background of AIDS. A cordial friendship bound Freddie and Montserrat to the end. To the aria D’amor Sull’ali Rosee about a prisoner awaiting execution from Verdi’s Il trovatore performed by Caballe, the great musician Freddie Mercury left this world.
In his last interview, Freddie said: “I don’t want to change the world, the main thing for me is happiness. If I’m happy, it reflects in my work. No amount of apology will help… later. I have a feeling that I was myself, and this is the main thing in life – to have happiness and joy. Everyone should strive for this as much as possible. But, of course, who can do it.”
These words can be fully attributed to the musical and human talent of Montserrat Caballe. She was always herself, was happy, explored joy and energy, and her wonderful voice filled the hearts of the listeners with love and inspiration and, perhaps, still helped the world at least change a little for the better.
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