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Montserrat Caballé’s Net Worth & Biography: Her Cars, House, Career, and More

montserrat caballé on stage singing
Image from Shutterstock.

With an impressive career spanning six decades, Montserrat Caballé has cemented herself as one of the most celebrated sopranos and classical singers of the 20th century. The Grammy award–winning songstress captivated audiences with her powerful, expressive voice and exquisite control that evoked strong emotions from listeners.

Although she has passed, Montserrat Caballé remains an iconic diva of the modern age, setting the standard for sopranos that have come after her. Who is Montserrat Caballé? What is Montserrat Caballé’s net worth? Find out all that and more in this article. 

Who is Montserrat Caballé?

María de Montserrat Bibiana Concepción Caballé i Folch, known more popularly as Montserrat Caballé, was a Spanish operatic singer with a Catalan soprano timbre.

She was best known for her bel canto technique which requires precise vocal control and calculated intensity over a relatively narrow dynamic range.

When Was Montserrat Caballé Born?

Montserrat Caballé’s birthdate was April 12, 1933, which makes her an Aries. Montserrat Caballé’s Zodiac sign has often been linked to her strong onstage presence and headstrong personality.

Montserrat Caballé Ethnicity

According to available records, Montserrat Caballé is of Spanish descent with both of her parents having been born and raised in Spain as well.

Where is Montserrat Caballé From?

Montserrat Caballé was born and raised in Barcelona in humble conditions caused by the Spanish Civil War. In her 20s, she moved to Basel, Switzerland where she lived for several years for formal training in operatic singing.

singer montserrat caballe working on music at a piano with a pianist. Montserrat Caballé's net worth.
Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé (Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepcion Caballé i Folch) rehearsing at La Scala. Milan, January 1975. Image is in the Public Domain.

Where Does Montserrat Caballé Live?

While the diva spent most of her life in Barcelona, she did move to Basel, Switzerland in her 20s for formal training in operatic singing. She also has a registered residence in Andorra, which was revealed to be her attempt at avoiding taxes in Barcelona.

How Tall is Montserrat Caballé?

Montserrat Caballé’s height was estimated to be 5 feet and 3 inches, making her a woman of short stature. Nevertheless, her commanding stage presence made her appear much taller than she actually was.

How Much Does Montserrat Caballé Weigh?

Throughout her career, the Barcelona singer maintained a relatively curvaceous physique, which was uncommon in her industry. According to records, Montserrat Caballé’s weight was roughly 230 lbs.

Some sources speculate that the soprano’s weight might have played a role in her sickly state towards the end of her life.

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How Did Montserrat Caballé Become Famous?

After completing her training in Basel, Switzerland, Montserrat Caballé joined the Basel Opera company.

Her professional debut as an operatic soprano came as she fulfilled her role as an understudy for the role of Mimi in one of Giacomo Puccini’s most popular opera productions, La bohemé, in 1956.

From 1957 to 1959, the rising star expanded her operatic repertoire to include well-loved pieces from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss. Her performance of German opera music opened the door for her to join the Breman Opera from 1959 to 1962.

In 1963, she returned to Barcelona, where she performed in the Liceu. It was in 1965 that she was chosen to replace a then-pregnant Marilyn Horne in a performance of Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in New York. 

Playing the title role, Caballe starred opposite Alfredo Kraus, who was himself a distinguished Spanish tenor of significant caliber and popularity.

This would prove to be the break she was waiting for. Her vocal performance earned her a 25-minute standing ovation and critical acclaim, skyrocketing her to certain international stardom.

Montserrat Caballé’s Parents

Not much is known about Montserrat Caballé’s parents or her relationship with them. We do know, however, that she was born to Carlos Juan Caballé Borras and Ana Folche.

Montserrat Caballé’s Sibling

Because of the difficult financial situation their family found itself in during the Spanish Civil War, they only had one other child after the eldest Montserrat.

Carlos Caballé, named after their father, went on to become a recognized operatic singer in his own right.

Who is Montserrat Caballé Married To?

Montserrat Caballé’s husband was an operatic tenor by the name of Bernabé Marti. They married on August 19, 1964.

Although not quite as prominent as his wife, Marti did experience his fair share of success, particularly with his 1958 performance in Manuel de Falla’s La vida breve in Granada.

Montserrat Caballé at a table with her son
The Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, with her husband the Spanish tenor Bernabé Marti and her son Bernabé II, sitting at a bar table in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Milan, 1971. Image is in the Public Domain.

Montserrat Caballé’s Children

Just like her parents before her, the Grammy award-winning songstress preferred to keep their family small, having just two children with her husband Bernabé.

Their eldest son, Bernabé Marti, Jr., prefers to keep his life private.

Their youngest, a daughter named Monsterrat Marti (better known by ‘Montsita’) went on to become an classical operatic soprano, following in the steps of her mother. She has also starred in a handful of acting roles as she attempts to expand her art form.

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Montserrat Caballé’s Net Worth

While the Caballé-Marti family tries to keep its affairs private, records online reveal that before her death, Montserrat Caballé’s net worth had reached over $30 million.

In 2015, Caballé was accused of tax evasion and pled guilty to the charges. According to her, she had registered a residence and a bank account in Andorra to avoid paying taxes in Spain. 

She was given a 6-month suspended jail sentence and paid a fine of €254,231 or $280,000. In addition to this, the diva was also banned from receiving or applying for any form of public subsidy for a duration of 18 months.

How Did Montserrat Caballé Get Rich?

Much of Montserrat’s wealth was amassed through revenue from her regular performances on stage. Some reports online claim that a string of performances in a year would earn the soprano roughly €2 million.

Other sources of income for the opera star include her recorded albums and singles.

Montserrat Caballé’s Cars

Because of her private nature, Montserrat Caballé wasn’t one to brandish her cars. After her death, however, one of the cars from what is assumed to be a much larger collection appeared for sale online.

The 1977 Mercedes 280 SEL sold for an undisclosed price, but is estimated to have cost over €40,000.

Montserrat Caballé’s House

In true Montserrat Caballé fashion, the “La Japonaise” singer tried to keep her estate under wraps. As far as the public is aware, the songstress owned a posh apartment in Barcelona and a villa in Andorra.

These were just two of the alleged numerous properties owned by the diva. In 2015, the singer put her Barcelona apartment up for sale to the tune of €1.2 million or roughly $1.4 million US dollars.

The sprawling 4-bedroom flat came with a terrace and a luxurious living room and was located in the heart of Eixample – a posh, upscale neighborhood.

Early Life

Born in Barcelona, Montserrat Caballé’s younger years were anything but remarkable. Raised in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Caballé and her family were well acquainted with the difficulties of poverty.

She grew up alongside a younger brother, and the two were fairly close. Although making a humble salary, her working-class parents did what they could to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their children.

At the age of seven, the budding songstress showed significant talent, especially with her dramatic soprano singing voice, which was recognized by her parents.

Her vocal range, evocative sense of melody, and excellent control on high notes were evident from a young age.

So, as a child, she began formal training and singing lessons at the prestigious Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu, where she was granted a scholarship.

There, she received training from well-known voice teachers in the Spanish opera scene, including Napoleone Annovazzi, Eugenia Kemény, and Conchita Badía.

It was in 1954 that she graduated from the program, receiving a gold medal which was the highest recognition that the institute bestowed on its students.

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up close image of montserrat caballé holding a microphone
Image from Shutterstock.

Career

Montserrat Caballé is recognized today as one of the most prominent sopranos of the modern age. Throughout her career, she worked with other operatic heavyweights, including Raymond Wolansky, Jean Cox, and Paul Schöffler.

Her most noteworthy performance would have to be in Bellini’s 1831 classic Norma where she played the title role. She was also well-loved for her rendition of the title roles in Puccini’s musicals Madama Butterfly and Tosca.

Throughout her career, Caballé would often perform at opera houses and theaters around the globe, including the Berlin State Opera, London’s Royal Opera House, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Caballé had also recorded numerous albums and singles during her time. However, the most noteworthy of all of Montserrat Caballé’s albums would have to be her unlikely collaboration with Queen frontman and pop music legend Freddie Mercury.

In 1987, the International Olympic Committee for the upcoming 1992 Olympic games approached Freddie Mercury to request him to write and record original music for the event.

Having watched Caballé live in the past and enthralled by her artistry, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” singer immediately reached out to the prima donna to request a collaboration on the project.

An admirer of Freddie Mercury’s dedication to the performing arts, Caballé responded with an unquestioning yes.

They subsequently recorded the album Barcelona, which featured many classic Montserrat Caballé songs and would make her traditional Spanish soprano voice more accessible to contemporary youth. It is recognized today as one of the most iconic duets of our time.

According to some sources, the meeting of their two unique art forms refreshed the public’s interest in classical music. In fact, the Barcelona album is often cited as her best work despite all of her performances in famous operas.

The album won Classic LP of the Year in 2006 from the now-defunct RHS-Gold.

Aside from her awards and performances, Caballé was also well-known for her backstage demeanor. Warm and motherly, Montserrat endeared coworkers with her welcoming, familiar personality during rehearsals.

Throughout her career, the operatic heroine also made it a point to advocate for causes that were important to her, including supporting the needs of low-income children in Barcelona. This paved the way for her appointment as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

What Grammys Did Montserrat Caballé Win?

Montserrat Caballé has won 3 Grammy awards throughout her career and four nominations. In 1969, she won her first Grammy in the Best Vocal Soloist Performance category for Rossini: Rarities.

Her next Grammy came in 1975 for Best Opera Recording with Puccini’s La Boheme, which she won alongside other great singers Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi, conductor Georg Solti, as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The following year, she bagged the same award, this time for Mozart: Così fan tutte. This she shared with Ileana Cotrubaș, Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Nicolai Gedda, conductor Colin Davis, and the Royal Opera House Orchestra.

Why Did Montserrat Caballé Often Cancel Shows?

The Catalan diva was famous for her routine cancellation of shows and concerts, which often drew the ire of eager audiences. Unfortunately, the soprano singer battled with various forms of illness throughout her adult years, forcing her to cancel appearances and refund tickets often at the last minute.

The star struggled with phlebitis, which caused her pain and obvious swelling. In 1985, Caballé discovered a tumor growing in her brain, which required immediate care. During the time, however, the soprano refused surgery.

In 1993, she had once again canceled a number of shows after suffering a heart attack, causing her a 3-month hospital stay. Much later, in 2012, Caballé suffered a stroke and consequently broke her arm in the process, requiring the cancellation of Montserrat Caballe’s tour in Russia.

How Did Montserrat Cabbalé Die?

Montserrat Caballé was admitted into the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona in September 2018 for undisclosed reasons. Just a month after, on October sixth, the celebrated operatic superstar died of a disease concerning her gallbladder

The tragedy made major opera news as prominent figures in the classical operatic scene converged to pay their respects to the prima donna. She was 85 years old.

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Written by Angelo Ruelan

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