Barcelona

uDiscoverMusic.com brings you exclusive editorial for each single included in the Messenger Of The Gods:

‘Barcelona (Single Version)’/‘Exercises In Free Love (Montserrat’s Vocal)’ (1987)

Freddie Mercury was always a man of high tastes, with a long list of interests that included opera. His favourite singer was Pavarotti, and so, when the Italian tenor was performing Verdi’s Un Ballo In Maschera at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, Freddie was in the audience. But it was the leading lady, Monsterrat Caballé, who stole his heart that night.

A few years later, during Queen’s Magic Tour, Freddie was asked on Spanish radio who his favourite singer was. He replied, “As far as I’m concerned, Montserrat Caballé has the best voice of anybody in existence.” Meanwhile, the soprano, a native of Barcelona, was looking for a song to perform as the anthem for the 1992 Olympics, which would be held in her home town. She and Freddie got together, became friends, and soon set to work on what would be an entire collaborative album.

With Caballé’s schedule booked up years in advance, Freddie was left to co-ordinate the project – he would send Caballé cassettes of works in progress, with his falsetto guide vocal to be replaced by her soprano.

The title track, which duly become the anthem for the games, is simply staggering. Indulging all of Freddie’s ambitions of grandeur, ‘Barcelona’ begins as an explosion of music and song, orchestral backing combining with synthesisers, before the whole thing is pared right back into a gentle duet between the two vocal powerhouses. Clearly both in awe of each other, the singers combine in majestic style, generously supporting one another as their melodies entwine, rising to a triumphant climax.

A No.8 hit in the UK in 1987, Freddie and Montserrat lip-synced a performance of the song at Le Nit festival the following year, welcoming the Olympic torch to Spain.

Paul McGuinness