Does this video of Freddie Mercury singing opera prove the Queen frontman really could perform anything?

1 June 2021, 14:40

A video of Freddie Mercury's isolated vocals released in 2012 may just prove the Queen star's singing voice was completely unrivalled.
A video of Freddie Mercury's isolated vocals released in 2012 may just prove the Queen star's singing voice was completely unrivalled. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Hamilton

A recording of Freddie Mercury singing opera in 1987 showcases the untrained singer's incredible four-octave vocal range.

A video of Freddie Mercury's isolated vocals released in 2012 may just prove the Queen star's singing voice was completely unrivalled.

Taken from the special edition of his Barcelona album with Montserrat Caballé, the incredible video showcases the star's four-octave operatic voice as he sings a solo.

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The recording was made in 1987 before the two singers collaborated to release their famous Barcelona album a year later in 1988, featuring the famous single of the same name.

Taken from the special edition of his Barcelona album with Montserrat Caballé, the incredible video showcases the star's four octave operatic voice as he sings a solo.
Taken from the special edition of his Barcelona album with Montserrat Caballé, the incredible video showcases the star's four octave operatic voice as he sings a solo. Picture: Getty

'Barcelona' went on to become one of the biggest hits of Freddie Mercury's solo career, reaching number 8 in the UK singles chart.

See more: What was Freddie Mercury's vocal range?

The song, co-written by Freddie Mercury and Mike Moran, highlighted the Queen frontman's love of opera.

After commenting in an interview how much he would like to meet soprano star Montserrat Caballé in person, the duo connected and decided to record an album together to celebrate the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

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Freddie Mercury's longtime assistant, Peter Freestone, opened up about Freddie and Montserrat's friendship in an interview with NME in October 2019.

Listen to the recording of Freddie Mercury singing opera below:

'Barcelona', co-written by Freddie and Mike Moran, highlighted the Queen frontman's love of opera and had been a lifelong dream for the flamboyant star.
'Barcelona', co-written by Freddie and Mike Moran, highlighted the Queen frontman's love of opera and had been a lifelong dream for the flamboyant star. Picture: Getty

Peter said Freddie was a huge fan of the opera star and was filled with nerves before their first encounter: "He'd be hopping from one foot to the other with nerves before meeting Montserrat. I never saw him like that in 20 years of working with Freddie."

See more: Freddie Mercury sings to 'soulmate' Mary Austin in touching footage from 1986 - video

The meeting between the pair went better than expected: "Freddie assumed they'd only make one song together. Then Montserrat said: 'How many songs do you put on a rock album?' When Freddie told her eight or 10, she said: 'Fine – we will do an album.'"

See more: Freddie Mercury and Brian May's private hotel jam session from 1986 is magnificent

The pair spent just nine days together over the three months it took to make the album, and at times their vocals were recorded separately in different parts of the world, yet Freddie Mercury would often pinch himself that such a famous opera star wanted to work with him.

Freddie Mercury would often pinch himself that such a famous opera star wanted to work with him. Pictured with Monserrat Caballé in Ibiza in 1987.
Freddie Mercury would often pinch himself that such a famous opera star wanted to work with him. Pictured with Monserrat Caballé in Ibiza in 1987. Picture: Getty
“When Montserrat sang ‘Barcelona’, after her first take was the nearest I ever saw Freddie to tears," recalled Peter Freestone. The pair pictured performing in Ibiza in 1987.
“When Montserrat sang ‘Barcelona’, after her first take was the nearest I ever saw Freddie to tears," recalled Peter Freestone. The pair pictured performing in Ibiza in 1987. Picture: Getty

"When Montserrat sang 'Barcelona', after her first take was the nearest I ever saw Freddie to tears," recalled Peter Freestone.

See more: Queen: Rare video of Freddie Mercury playing the drums at a band rehearsal in 1977 is phenomenal

"Freddie was emotional, but he was always in control of his emotions, because he could let them out in performing or writing songs.

"He grabbed my hand and said: 'I have the greatest voice in the world, singing my music!' He was so elated."

See more: Freddie Mercury's last ever photo revealed: Beautiful private image of the Queen star at home

Accompanied by an orchestra, Freddie Mercury and Monserrat performed 'Barcelona' together on October 8, 1988, at La Nit festival in Barcelona to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic flag from Seoul.

The performance would be bittersweet, as unbeknownst to Freddie Mercury and his fans, it would be his last live performance as a solo artist before his death in 1991.

Watch Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballé perform 'Barcelona' below:

'Barcelona' was, however, featured as the introductory video at the opening ceremony and was the title music to the BBC's coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics.

The collaboration between Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballé is still seen as the first real meeting of rock and opera.

See more: Remembering Freddie Mercury's incredible final performance with Queen - video

"Look at any of the rock singers at that time and what Freddie was putting at risk, performing with an opera singer," Peter Freestone concludes.

"Who else would have dared do anything like it?"