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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 02:51 GMT 03:51 UK
Diva breaks into male bastion
Barcelona
Barcelona, where Caballe is feted as a heroine
Opera star Montserrat Caballe has won her battle to become one of the first women to join the 150-year-old all-male Cercle del Liceu club at Barcelona's Liceu opera house.

Senora Caballe and nine other women were admitted to the club - whose members constitute the cream of Barcelona society - "by a majority vote," the club announced.

Although the international diva has sung on the opera's stage on more than 100 occasions in the past 30 years, her admission to one of the most stubborn bastions of male domination in Spain did not come easily.

Montserrat Caballe
Caballe trained at the Teatro del Liceu
The applications from the same group of prestigious Catalan women had been rejected in February amid a storm of bad publicity.

At the same time three membership applications from men had been upheld.

Earlier, a hard core of traditionalists had gone to court in an attempt to prevent the soprano from joining their ranks.

Blackballed

But the Cercle was forced to bow to Spain's equal opportunities law and agree to change its statutes so that women could be admitted.

Despite this, traditionalists made good on their pledge to block the rules from being implemented.

There are few details about the club's change of heart on Tuesday. But media reports say the Liceu's entire board of directors resigned late on Monday at a club meeting to reconsider the applications.

They say antiquated admission rules have also been scrapped, allowing a special committee to govern decision-making.

According to the old system, the Cercle's 1,000 members cast their votes by choosing between white and black balls. Only a third of the members needed to vote with a black ball to block the applications.

Senora Caballe - widely acknowledged to be Spain's greatest living soprano - donated $35,400 to help rebuild the Liceu after it burned down in 1994.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera funder donates 34m to US
25 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera star fails to storm male bastion
23 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Opera star strikes blow for women
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