Like Montserrat Caballe, Victoria de Los Angleles was born in Barcelona. Her’s was a humble but musical family and before beginning formal study she was already singing to her own guitar accompaniment. She was accepted by the city’s Conservatory and she progressed so rapidly that she completed the six-year course in three.
Her professional debut when she was only 22, was at Barcelona’s leading opera house, the Liceo, where she sang the Countess in Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’. Two years later she won the Geneva International Voice Competition and her international career had began. Her singing, pure, beautiful and true, won her many admirers and great public affection. She sang in all the major opera houses of the world, having a special connection with The Metropolitan, New York, and made many recordings – EMI with whom she had a contract for thirty years, claims that she made over 80 recordings for them. I have one of them – the famous Beecham performance of Puccini’s La Boheme where she was partnered by Jussi Bjoerling.
Against this disc all other recordings of the opera tend to be judged.
There was a fragility about her voice and her high notes became more effortful in time, so she left the operatic stage in the 1970’s, concentrating on her work as a recitalist and employing her immense repertoire of German, French, Italian and Spanish songs. Her encores became famous, especially when she returned to the platform with her guitar and sang Catalan songs. Often she was accompanied by the English pianist, Gerald Moore who, when he retired, gave a concert with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and de Los Angeles. It was recorded in 1962 and is still available (EMI Classics 7243 5 67000 2 8).
De Los Angeles who died this year was one of the most loved artists of her age. Her voice was as beautiful as her presence and there was a vulnerability about both that endeared her to audiences throughout the world.
Surely no one will ever sing Mimi again as she did!