Francesco Uetam was an internationally renowned Mallorcan lyrical singer whose real name was Francisco Mateu y Nicolau but he Italianised it to Francesco and inverted the letters of his surname, turning it into Uetam, the name with which he would be known throughout the world. Valldemossa dedicated one of its main streets to him, Calle Uetam (Mateu spelled backwards).
He was born in Palma in 1847 but established strong links with Valldemossa. His parents, Francisco and Margarita, ran a small shop. When he was a child, he received free music lessons, as his family was poor, from the flute teacher Ignacio Muntaner. One day, the orchestra conductor and composer happened to hear him singing, and offered to be his singing teacher.
Francesco Uetam had a notable stage presence, he made his characters seem believable and elegant. He had a large voice, capable of making sweet and tender sounds as well as deep and resounding ones.
The operas where Uetam consolidated his fame as one of the best bass singers in the world were: The North Star by Meyerbeer, Don Carlo by Verdi, The Barber of Seville by Rossini, Mefistofele by Boito, Faust by Gounod, Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer, Robert the devil also by Meyerbeer, Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti, Lakmé by Léo Delibes and The Jewess by Halévy.
Richard Wagner did not earn the attention of Uetam, he only sang Lohengrin alongside Gayarre.
With regard to Valldemossa, there is little existing documentation, but we know that he owned a property in this town, where his mother was born and where he spent part of his childhood, in the house of his godparents and relatives. He purchased a cell in the Charterhouse – which is now owned by the Capllonch Ferrà family-: he obtained it in an auction for six thousand seven hundred and fifty pesetas, plus another six hundred and fifteen pesetas for the furniture it contained.
He died on 19 May 1913, famous and rich, in his residence in Palma de Mallorca.