Soprano Montserrat Caballé dies at 85
Spanish opera star Montserrat Caballé has died at the age of 85.
The soprano received international acclaim during an operatic career spanning 50 years.
But she reached a new audience in 1987, recording a single with iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, which became the soundtrack to the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Caballé suffered a stroke in 2012 and had been hospitalised in Barcelona since last month.
She died in the city's Sant Pau hospital.
The Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house in Barcelona, where Caballe performed more than 200 times, described her as “one of the most important sopranos in history”.
Spanish tenor Jose Carreras said she possessed a voice of great range, combined with a flawless technique.
“Of all the sopranos I’ve heard live in the theater, I’ve never heard anyone singing like Caballe,” Carreras said in a radio interview with Catalunya Radio.
Spain’s royal family called her “the great lady of the opera, a legend of universal culture, the best among the best”.
“Her personality and her unique voice will always be with us,” the royals said in a tweet.
Not all high notes
Despite a career of glittering success there was some controversy.
In 2015, at a time when Spain was cracking down on tax evasion as it attempted to rein in a large public deficit during a prolonged economic crisis, Caballe agreed to a fine of 250,000 euros and a symbolic six-month jail term.
Caballe was considered one of the finest modern exponents of the ‘bel canto repertoire’, Spain’s Culture Minister Jose Guirao said on Saturday.
“Her loss leaves a huge void,” he said.
Her funeral is expected to take place on Monday (October 8).