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Conxita Badia

Concepció Badía d'Agustí (14 November 1897 – 2 May 1975) (known by her stage name as Conxita Badía) was a Spanish soprano and pianist. Admired for her spontaneity, expressiveness, and clear diction, she was considered one of the greatest interpreters of the 20th century Spanish and Latin American art song. She premiered many works in that genre, including those by Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Frederic Mompou, Alberto Ginastera, and Enric Morera, several of which were written specially written for her voice.

Conchita Badía was born Concepció Badia i Millás in Barcelona on 14 November 1897 and studied with Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla and Pau Casals. She had initially enrolled in the Granados Academy as a piano student, but the composer 'discovered' her voice during a solfège examination. Her first appearance on the opera stage was as one of the six flower maidens in a performance of Wagner's Parsifal at the Palau de la Música Catalana in 1913 when she was only 16 years old. Her solo recital debut came on 5 April 1915 in the premiere performance of the Granados song cycle, Canciones Amatorias, accompanied by the composer. (Two of the songs, "Llorad corazón" and "Gracia mía", were dedicated to her by Granados). Following the death of Granados and his wife in the 1916 sinking of the Sussex, she performed in numerous concerts in his memory. In 1935, she made one of her rare appearances on the opera stage to sing the title role in his opera María del Carmen. It was the first time the work had been revived since its initial performances in 1898-1899.

During the 1930s she gave many recitals and concerts, not only in Spain, but also in London, Paris, and Vienna. In Vienna, she sang Robert Gerhard’s Sis cançons populars catalanes in their 1932 premiere conducted by Anton Webern. Gerhard had also dedicated his early song cycle L'infantament meravellós de Shahrazada (1916–18) to Badía and later said of her:

"She feels such an intense joy when she sings – joy in the music, joy in her own voice – that it is impossible not to share it when you listen to her."

In 1936 Badía and her daughters left Spain to escape the Spanish Civil War. They initially lived in Paris and then in Rio de Janiero before moving to Argentina where her husband joined them in 1938. In Argentina she continued her close artistic partnership with her fellow exile, Manuel de Falla. She also collaborated closely with the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera and the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. In 1946, she and her family returned to Spain, where she introduced many of their songs to Spanish audiences.

Badía also taught singing and piano, both privately and in her later years as a professor at Barcelona's Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu. Amongst her pupils were the soprano Montserrat Caballé and the pianist Joaquín Nin-Culmell.

Conchita Badía died in Barcelona on 2 May 1975. In 1997, the Archivo Manuel de Falla and the University of Granada marked the centenary of her birth with an exhibition and a series of concerts in her honour.