25 years after the original release of the lead single, Queen singer Freddie Mercury’s most self-defining and personal work, his ‘Barcelona’ album recorded in collaboration with Spanish operatic soprano Montserrat Caballé, is to have a special re-release in an entirely newly orchestrated re-working.
The original Barcelona album, named after the Spanish city who would host the Olympics in 1992 and for which Mercury had been asked to write the theme song, was to become the final solo work Mercury would complete.
The title was also a tribute to the home city of his beloved recording partner Montserrat Caballé with whom Freddie was captivated and had planned to perform the title song with at the opening of the 1992 Olympics opening ceremony. Sadly Mercury passed away eight months before this could happen.
But the album gave Mercury a million selling record and posthumously a chart topping single when the song Barcelona was chosen by BBC TV as its title music to its coverage of the Olympics.
One of the most audacious, and groundbreaking musical collaborations of the 80’s, ‘Barcelona’ was for Freddie the embodiment of his long held fantasy of combining rock and opera and realizing his dream of collaborating with the woman of whom he said after first seeing her performing at London’s Royal Opera House in 1981, "I have now heard the best voice in the world".
Freddie had gone to the Opera House to see Luciano Pavarotti in Verdi’s ‘Un ballo in maschera’. Freddie had heard him on record but never seen him live. However, as impressive as Pavarotti clearly was, it was the mezzo soprano who blew Freddie away. He was later to play his manager Jim Beach a record of Montserrat Caballé. “I wish to record with her”, Freddie told an astonished Jim. “Please arrange it.”
Beach arranged a first meeting, at the Ritz hotel in Barcelona.
Freddie took with him pianist / arranger, Mike Moran, together with a demo recording they had prepared for Montserrat entitled “Exercises in Free Love” which Freddie had sung in falsetto imitating her voice. Freddie’s team had arranged for a massive PA system to be installed in the garden at the Ritz where they met and Freddie played his demo to Montserrat the moment she arrived. “Could I sing it next Sunday at my recital at Covent Garden?” Montserrat asked on hearing it. They rehearsed it then and there and the album Barcelona was born.
Nicely completing the circle between that first encounter between Freddie and Montserrat, this new edition brings to the album for the first time as an extra track Freddie’s original vocal performance of ‘Exercises in Free Love’ which Montserrat heard in the garden of the Ritz and formed the seed of their collaboration.
The ‘Barcelona’ Special Edition album will be at the centre of a new groundswell of interest in the work of the late singer who died in November 1991 and in whose memory his birthday is now marked each year with the HIV AIDS fundraising day, ‘Freddie For A Day’.
The re-created Barcelona album is being hailed as the version Mercury would have wanted to make at the time had he felt able to work with a full symphony orchestra.
Mercury recorded his original album almost entirely on keyboards. This 2012 special edition replaces Mercury and co-writer and producer Mike Moran’s synthesized arrangements with a full symphonic orchestral score performed by the eighty piece FILMharmonic Orchestra, Prague, one of the most sought after recording orchestras in Central Europe, featuring leading members from Czech foremost orchestras (Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony).
(Island Records Press Release)
,,Für die Special Edition
wurden die Original-Keyboardspuren entfernt
und durch ein wuchtiges Symphonie-
Orches ter ersetzt, statt Drum-Computer ist
Roger Taylors Sohn Rufus zu hören, David
Garrett durfte ein neues Violinsolo einspielen.
Und als Bonus-Track gibt es das Mercury-
Demo “Exercises In Free Love” dazu, mit
dem er damals die Diva überzeugte." (Good Times, Oktober / November 2012)