Song of the Day: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé

Under the Magnificent Skylight (Barcelona) by Cloudwhisperer67

Barcelona” is a single released by Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury and operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé. A part of their collaborative album Barcelona, it also appeared on Queen’s Greatest Hits III.

Lyrics:

I had this perfect dream
Un sueno me envolvio
This dream was me and you
Tal vez esta aqui
I want all the world to see
Un instinto me guiaba
A miracle sensation
My guide and inspiration
Now my dream is slowly coming true
The wind is a gentle breeze
EI me hablo de ti
The bells are ringing out
EI canto vuela
They’re calling us together
Guiding us forever
Wish my dream would never go away

Barcelona
It was the first time that we met
Barcelona
How can I forget
The moment that you stepped into the room
You took my breath away

Barcelona
La musica vibro
Barcelona
Yella nos unio
And if God is willing
We will meet again
Someday

Let the songs begin
Dejalo nacer
Let the music play
Ahhhhhhh …
Make the voices sing
Nace un gran amor
Start the celebration
Ven a mi
And cry
Grita
Come alive
Vive
And shake the foundations from the skies
Shaking all our lives

Barcelona
Such a beautiful horizon
Barcelona
Like a jewel in the sun
Por ti sere gaviota de tu bella mar
Barcelona
Suenan las campanas
Barcelona
Abre tus puertas al mundo
If God is willing
If God is willing
If God is willing
Friends until the end

Viva!
Barcelona!

……

The song reflects Mercury’s love of opera with his high notes and Caballé’s operatic vocals, backed by a full orchestra. Originally released in 1987, it was one of the biggest hits of Mercury’s solo career, reaching number eight in the UK Singles Chart. After Mercury’s death in 1991, it was featured at the 1992 Summer Olympics, after which the track climbed even higher, peaking at number 2 in the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In 2004, BBC Radio 2 listed Barcelona at #41 in its Sold On Song Top 100.

Mercury had been a long-time fan of opera, especially favouring Montserrat Caballé. In 1986, he mentioned on Spanish television that he would be glad to see her in person. They had a friendly initial meeting in Barcelona in February 1987. Later, when the city had been chosen for the 1992 Summer Olympics, Caballé, a native of the city, was asked to help with producing a song for the games. She summoned Mercury for the task. Mercury became enthusiastic about the project and instead of recording a single, she proposed to make an album, which Mercury agreed on. The song “Barcelona” had to be its opening song, to be completed by 1988, and to be submitted as a candidate for the 1992 Olympic theme (the selection was scheduled for 1988, 4 years before the Games). The recording was complicated by the tight schedule of Caballé. Thus to spare her time, Mercury recorded the song, also singing her part in falsetto. He would then send a tape to Caballé to prepare her for the joint studio sessions.

The song was co-written by Mercury with Mike Moran, who also appeared in the song’s video and played a piano accompaniment for the studio recording. The song starts with an orchestral introduction, which fades and is followed by Mercury and Caballé singing alternately their solo lines, sometimes merging into a duet. When singing the chorus “Barcelona” and a few other parts for the studio version, Mercury dubs over his voice in his usual multi-tracking style. Mercury leads the song whereas Caballé provides a powerful “background” soprano. Since Caballé covers the soprano part, Mercury sings in his natural baritone voice rather than forced tenor, which was common in his other recordings.

The song has been described as a rare textbook example of a combination of pop and opera singing which accentuated their differences. Whereas Mercury articulates his every word, Caballé focuses on the tone; her lines are much harder to comprehend, and further, she uses both English and Spanish languages. Consequently, she keeps her part melodic throughout all the song at the expense of the text, whereas Mercury has to resort from singing to nearly shouting at the crescendo part in order to deliver his words.Mercury was reportedly amazed by the legendary ability of Caballé to control her voice; for example, in the fadeout, he had to step away from the microphone to decrease his voice intensity, whereas she didn’t move at all.

Freddie Mercury

Birth name Farrokh Bulsara
Born 5 September 1946
Stone Town, Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania)
Origin London, England, UK
Died 24 November 1991 (aged 45)
Kensington, London, England, UK
Genres Rock, hard rock, glam rock
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, guitar
Years active 1969–1991
Labels Columbia, Polydor, EMI,Parlophone, Hollywood Records
Associated acts Queen, Ibex / Wreckage,Montserrat CaballéFreddie Mercury signature 2.svg
Freddie Mercury’s signature

Montserrat Caballé

Montserrat Caballé (born 12 April 1933) is a Spanish operatic soprano. She has sung a wide variety of roles, but is best known as an exponent of the bel canto repertoire, notably the works of RossiniBelliniDonizetti and Verdi. She came to the attention of a much wider audience in 1988 when she sang with rock-star Freddie Mercury of Queen the song featuring her home city “Barcelona“, later a theme song for the 1992 Summer Olympics in that city.

image by Cloudwhisperer67

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