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Montserrat Caballé's funeral 'not catalán enough', says Carreras
TENOR Josep (José) Carreras has said his soprano colleague Montserrat Caballé's funeral was 'a beautiful service', but that it was 'a shame' there was not 'a bit more catalán' in the readings.
After the wake for the Barcelona-born legend today (Monday), Carreras said he 'did not want to enter into controversy', but that he 'missed' hearing his and Sra Caballé's regional language at the '100% Castilian Spanish' service.
“But what can we do – it's just one of those things,” Carreras shrugged.
“I imagine it was the family's wishes, so there's nothing you can say; rather, all you can do is admire what they've done for her.”
But otherwise, it was 'a perfect ceremony' which Carreras was 'privileged to attend', said the opera divo who considers Caballé, 85, his 'big sister'.
“She was the greatest soprano of the 20th century and, if anyone could ever get close to her talent, only Maria Callas could,” Carreras commented, praising Caballé's 'versatility, vocation and love for her profession'.
Among the thousands of famous faces who attended the service were Queen Sofía, wife of Rex Emeritus King Juan Carlos I and mother of the reigning King Felipe VI, and president of Spain Pedro Sánchez, who briefly bumped into Catalunya regional president Quim Torra at the ceremony but, fortunately, kept their mutual friction concerning the separatism issue out of the arena for the day.
María de Montserrat Bibiana Concepción Caballé Folch, who was born in Barcelona on April 12, 1933 was reported to have been admitted to hospital on September 22 with a 'gall-bladder problem', but was expected to be discharged by around September 24 or 25 as it was not considered serious.
To this end, the exact cause of death is not clear, although her various chronic health problems may have contributed to complications that led to her passing away very early on Saturday morning.
She had suffered a stroke in 2012 which caused her to break her arm, and was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour in 1989, which she did not admit publicly until 2006 and which was not apparently necessary to operate on.
Caballé suffered heart failure in 1983 and, in 1996, was operated on for a hernia, for which she underwent surgery again in 2000 and 2001.
The soprano failed to appear in court in 2014 for a hearing concerning the more than half a million euros in tax she had knowingly defrauded by having her income for concerts in 2010 received by a dormant company domiciled in Andorra, a Pyrénéen tax haven where she purported to be resident.
Then aged 82, she was said to be 'too ill' and confined to bed.
An out-of-court settlement was reached via a video-conference hearing in the singer's kitchen – Caballé had already repaid the defrauded tax plus a 50% fine and interest, and was awarded a six-month prison sentence which, as it was for a first offence and was for less than two years, meant she would not have to serve it.
Tax evasion in Spain automatically becomes a criminal offence where the amount defrauded is €120,000 or more, meaning celebrities caught out are, by default, committing a crime due to their very high earnings – and several have fallen foul of the system by leaving their tax affairs in their accountants' hands and going along with their advice to set up dormant companies to offset their duties.
Half a century on the opera frontline
During her 50-year career, Caballé played over 80 operatic roles, ranging from the Baroque to Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and Strauss, and also featured on the 1988 album Purísima Sara by actress and singer Sara Montiel, one of Spain's most famous Hollywood names who died on the same day as UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
As well as José Carreras, Montserrat Caballé has performed alongside opera greats such as Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Maria Callas, Alfredo Kraus and Bruce Dickinson.
She will be best remembered internationally for her duet with the late Freddie Mercury, frontman of rock band Queen.
Their track Barcelona – released in 1986 and again in 1988 – reached number one in the UK and Spanish charts and was the title single of an album which also featured Tim Rice and Mike Moran.
Barcelona was chosen as the official anthem of the 1992 Olympics in the north-eastern city, although a live performance at the opening and closing ceremonies was frustrated by Freddie Mercury's death from AIDS in 1991.
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