Festival d’Aix, summer of 1980. Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé triumphs in the title role of Rossini’s Semiramide in a cast that unites the cream of bel canto, including Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey. The Catalan diva was at the height of her skills and her fame. This Semiramis would remain one of the peaks of her career.
But this wasn’t Caballé’s first appearance at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. She had already been invited in 1975 for performances of the rare Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra by Rossini; then again in 1977 for Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, in which she once again sang the role of Queen Elizabeth I.
Sublime and whimsical, the embodiment of the diva, worthy heir to Maria Callas in the rediscovery of Romantic bel canto, Montserrat Caballé enjoyed a long and remarkable career. She passed away on October 6th in Barcelona, her home town. But her voice still resonates in the memories of many festival-goers.