Books by Robert Pullen

Released: April 1, 1995

Everything you always wanted to know (and perhaps a bit more) about the legendary Spanish soprano—a sensible, readable biography. Baptized Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepci¢n CaballÇ i Folch, CaballÇ is still singing in her early 60s, to the enjoyment of music lovers worldwide. The authors, both London-based opera buffs, cover her distinguished ancestry (a family that declined from national prominence to genteel poverty), Catalan childhood and musical study, early theatrical experiences, rise to superstardom in the world's major lyric theaters, repeated illnesses that earned her a reputation as someone likely to cancel performances, and long, happy marriage to BernabÇ Mart° (an average tenor but above- average domestic and professional partner), all leading up to the recent rejuvenation of her career symbolized by her 1992 appearance at the opening of the Barcelona Olympic Games. Given the inevitable difficulty of writing about a performer whose art contains more drama than her life (hearing a five-minute snippet of CaballÇ's magic pianissimo conveys more of her essence than any descriptive volume), it is hard to see how the book could be bettered, offering as it does a full and thoughtful narrative of CaballÇ live and on disc. The authors conclude with a lengthy and excellent ``critical discography,'' by itself worth the price of admission for CaballÇ's many admirers. Although they engage in some pardonable diva-olotry, they also make needed corrections to record, as when they point out that since her debut in 1956, the reputedly erratic CaballÇ has given some 3,800 performances—considerably more than Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland combined—and withdrawn from 200. Since Pullen and Taylor obviously have access to CaballÇ and her entourage, they should now give us a follow-up volume devoted solely to the soprano's breathtaking vocal technique. A fine addition to the opera lover's shelf. (16 pages b&w photos) Read full book review >