Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballe dead at 85

Caballe performs during a concert at Konzerthaus in Vienna

Montserrat Caballe passed away at the Sant Pau Hospital in the Catalan capital, aged 85.

The Spanish news agency Efe announced on Saturday morning that she had died at St Pau hospital in Barcelona, according to hospital sources.

The star was admitted to hospital because of a gall bladder problem, Spanish media said.

Born into a working class family in Barcelona, Caballe unveiled her musical talents early on, singing Bach cantatas at the age of 7.

Her voice was described by her fans as inspirational, legendary and not of this world.

In her almost unlimited repertoire, she starred in 90 opera roles with nearly 4,000 stage performances.

"Her voice and tenderness will remain with us forever".

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Her first worldwide hit was in NY at Carnegie Hall, with her portrayal of Lucrezia Borgia of Donizati replacing the main mezzo-soprano Marilyn Home.

The performance won her great acclaim from the public and made her an overnight sensation.

The duo played a leading role in what was the official anthem of the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992.

Caballe performed the song live, accompanied by a recording of the late Mercury, at the 1999 UEFA Champions League soccer final in Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium.

Queen guitarist Brian May paid tribute on Instagram, writing: "RIP dear Montsy - inspiration to us all but especially to Freddie".

She was ordered to pay €254,000 (£223,304) and accepted a six-month suspended jail sentence as part of a deal with prosecutors after being accused of funnelling her earnings through a company in Andorra.

Maria de Montserrat Bibiana Concepcion Caballe i Folch, has always been considered as one of the greatest sopranos of the twentieth century along with Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jessy Norman. She also established a foundation for needy children in Barcelona.

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