Montserrat at the Herodion

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 | Performance, Travel

Hearing Montserrat Caballé sing at the Herodion in Athens was like listening to your grandmother sing in the shower. A pretty amazing shower, mind you, of marble, an open air amphitheater on the southern slope of the Acropolis, built in 161 A.D. by Herodius Atticus, and restored in the 1950’s. Montserrat is a legend, but really, your grandmother. She’s 79, and her voice, while still strong, was of a depth that allowed for few of the ornate embellishments that she’s known for, the former light playfulness of her voice now just heavy, sluggish. Bless her for still performing at her age, but when a voice fades, often it’s replaced by some kind of emotional or stylistic intensity that make up for the lost strength. I’m thinking of Billy Holiday’s spectacular Lady in Satin, released a year before her death, specifically “I’m a Fool to Want You”—I’m getting goosepimply thinking of it—her faded higher register replaced with such emotional devastation. There was no encore after Montserrat left the stage, nor a call for one, not one brava!, everybody just went home.

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