It Was Like "Freddie And Montserrat Were Falling In Love At First Sight": The Powerful Story Behind The Great Hit 'Barcelona'
November 16, 2018 17:24 By Mambee
Once upon a time, few people would have imagined that pairing one of rock n' roll's most talented singer with an equally gifted opera performer would create such a powerful blend of voices and music. Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé did prove such a combination can be mindblowing, though.
Montserrat had become very well known through the 60s, 70s and even in the early 80s. So it was no surprise that she was invited to headline the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. However, the choice that seemed less obvious was that her partner would be the British lead singer of one of the most flamboyant rock bands ever, Queen.
Lesley-Ann Jones, author of Freddie Mercury: The Definitive Biography, revealed in the book that Freddie described Montserrat as having "the best voice of anybody in existence." Jones explained that the pair met in Barcelona in 1987 for the first time. Freddie's personal assistant, Peter Freestone, said that the duo had a strong connection almost instantly. An excerpt from the book read that Peter:
(...) said both Freddie and Montserrat were very enamoured with each other, almost like they were falling in love at first sight. Of course, that was never going to happen, they were completely ill-matched, but they really fell for each other.
Combining opera and rock did not seem like the most obvious pairing, but Freddie and Montserrat found the perfect blend between the two. Even though he was a rock star, Freddie also had a pretty unusual voice which allowed him to perfectly keep up with Montserrat. In addition, according to Jones, Freddie also had a deep respect for the opera singer.
He would always defer to someone who studied an art form. He was very aware he had a lot to learn from someone like Montserrat.
Freddie was quite excited by the idea of performing the pair's hit, 'Barcelona' in front of billions of people on a global TV platform at the 1992 Olympics Games. Unfortunately, that was not to be as he passed away in 1991, four years after being diagnosed with HIV.
Jones shared that Montserrat missed him terribly. The opera performer did go on to take the stage at the Opening Ceremony, and performed alone with Freddie's vocals accompanying her on playback.
Even though the pair never made it to the Olympic stage together, they did give the world one of sport's most classic songs. And for that, fans will always be grateful.