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Subject: A Caballé anecdote
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:41:45 -0700

text/plain (22 lines)

From a 50-year retrospective on Philips classical recordings by Hans Lauterslager. Hans had joined Philips in 1952 as a recording engineer and continued making classical recordings for the company for 40 years.

The Tosca we did in 1976, with Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras and Ingvar Wixell, in Watford Town Hall. When we unpacked our equipment it appeared that we had the wrong type of loudspeakers, too small to handle the big forces of a Puccini opera. An immediate call to Baarn headquarters reassured us: the big loudspeakers we needed would be sent by van on the night ferry and arrive just in time for the first session in the afternoon. The next morning passed, and no van arrived. Probably a delay at customs? So we had to start with the small loudspeakers. They were all right for balancing at a modest soundlevel, but for playing back to the artists who have just come out of the hall one has to turn up the level considerably which we couldn’t do without getting serious distortion. Montserrat Caballé sat beside me behind the mixer. When we got to her first big notes she looked at me with very black eyes and said in her heavy Spanish-English:
"This is no good. Out there I sing like a horrrse, een heerre I sound like Meekie Mouse!" I tried to explain but still she looked very unhappy.

At that moment the van arrived. The new loudspeakers were quickly installed, and we played the same take again. A smile appeared on Montserrat’s face and she said, tapping my shoulder, "Now I know you again". The session was saved, and we made one of our most successful recordings.

Max Paley

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