On Air Now
Smooth Classics with Margherita Taylor 10pm - 1am
6 October 2018, 09:58
The legendary Spanish opera singer has died aged 85 and this haunting performance of the famous aria by Bellini is a reminder of just what a phenomenal singer she was
Montserrat Caballé made her name singing operas by the likes of Puccini, Verdi and Donizetti. But this might be one of the most beautiful performances of her whole career.
The aria 'Casta Diva' comes from Bellini's opera Norma, and is a moment of stillness and calm before an oncoming war. Norma, the head priestess, leads her people in a mesmerising prayer to the goddess of the moon ('Casta diva' translates as 'chaste goddess').
It's an exquisite example of the 'bel canto' style and is also, famously, one of the most challenging pieces ever written for soprano: it requires both a delicately flexible voice, for those vocal fireworks, but also a strong and powerful instrument over a large range of notes.