September will see the re-release of Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé’s album, Barcelona, with a new orchestration, plus bonus material.
Freddie Mercury is a music icon and legend, maintaining a presence in the British public’s consciousness to this very day, thanks mainly to being the primary talent behind the phenomenally successful rock band, Queen. For those of you who watched it, you may recall that he even made a posthumous appearance at the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony; such is his enduring impact on British music even 21 years after his death.
Next month, Island Records are re-releasing the Queen frontman’s collaboration with Spanish soprano, Montserrat Caballé, on the album Barcelona – his unexpected foray into the world of opera. This re-release, which marks the original’s 25th anniversary since it was first released, will be in the form of a special edition that sees the album set against a fresh orchestration and new percussion, replacing the synthesizers and drum machines.[pullquote_right]I’m moving into opera now. Forget rock and roll – Freddie Mercury (1987)[/pullquote_right]
The impetus behind the original collaboration followed on from Barcelona being chosen to host the 1992 Olympics, with Mercury then being sought out to pen a theme for the games. Mercury had been a long-standing fan of Caballé, so he was eager to work with the opera star, who in turn came to greatly respect Mercury’s musical talents. The pair planned to perform the title track together at the opening ceremony in 1992, but sadly this wasn’t to be, with Mercury passing away eight months previously due to AIDS.
One of the most audacious, and ground-breaking musical collaborations of the 1980s, Barcelona was for Mercury the embodiment of his long held fantasy of combining rock and opera, helping him realise his dream of collaborating with the woman of whom he said, after seeing her performing at London’s Royal Opera House in 1981: ‘I have now heard the best voice in the world.’
The Special Edition album will coincide with other works designed to celebrate the work and life of the music legend. These include a major new documentary entitled The Great Pretender, as well as a freshly authored and illustrated book, Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender – A Life in Pictures. Central to this updated version of Barcelona, is arranger and music director Stuart Morley, whose connection with Queen and Freddie Mercury lies in his role as managing director of the band’s hit musical, We Will Rock You. Acting as producer for this Special Edition, Morley also worked alongside Queen sound engineer Kris Fredriksson, between them ensuring the project was in safe hands.
The orchestral score was performed by the eighty-piece FILMharmonic Orchestra from Prague – one of the most sought after orchestras from central Europe – finally making the album a true masterpiece. The album will be available on CD, with deluxe CD and digital formats to include bonus audio and DVD extras. The bonus audio includes Freddie Mercury’s demo vocals for the album tracks that he sent to Caballé to convince her to make an album together, as well alternate versions of some tracks and the 1987 B-side, ‘Exercises in Free Love.’