Obituary: Tenor Bernabé Martí & Husband of Legendary Soprano Monserrat Caballé Dies at 93

By Francisco Salazar

Tenor Bernabé Martí died on March 18, 2022 at the age of 93.

Born in Villarroya de la Sierra in Spain on Nov. 14, 1928, the tenor first studied the saxophone in his municipal band and later went on to study singing in Zaragoza, the Madrid Royal Conservatory, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.

In 1956, he made his debut at the Teatro Principal in Zaragoza and in 1958 he had his first success in Manuel de Falla’s “La Vida breve”  in Granada. That was followed by a two-year tour singing in various European cities and in 1960 he performed at the Liceu in Barcelona in the premiere of “El cap de drac” by Ricard Lamote de Grignon.

Martí went on to perform in France, Germany, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Caracas, and Santiago de Chile. He eventually made his Carnegie Hall debut in “Il pirata” which was followed by performances in U.S. cities including San Antonio, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Kansas. The tenor was also popular at the New York City Opera where he performed from 1967 to 1971.

His repertoire included such operas as “Carmen,” “Werther,” “Manon Lescaut,” “Il Trovatore,” “Rigoletto,” Tosca,” “Werther,” “Turandot,” “Pagliacci,” “Carmen” and “Norma.”

On August 14, 1964, he married soprano Montserrat Caballé at Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey. The couple first met when on short notice he replaced an ailing tenor for performances of “Madama Butterfly.”

Martí and Caballé would perform together several times and had a son named Bernabé and a daughter named Montserrat.

In 1972, he was forced to leave the stage during a performance of “Norma” in Paris due to problems with his voice, which was later identified as lung disease. In 1985, he ended his career after he was diagnosed with a cardiac condition. He would become a huge support for his wife’s international career after retiring from the stage.

Martí left a number of records including “Madama Butterfly,” “Marina,” “Doña Francisquita,” and “Los de aragón o La Dogaresa.” He also made recordings with Caballe.